The air is turning colder, the days are shorter, and people are once again preparing to spend more time indoors. It’s also time for Thanksgiving, when we gather with our family and friends, reunite with loved ones, and share in all that we have to be grateful for. It can be so easy to fall into a rut of focusing on the bad or frustrating things in our lives, so I’m always excited for the reset that Thanksgiving brings. I also find it to be a good reminder to both share when I can, and accept help when I need it. Whether you’re looking for opportunities to donate or volunteer, or resources for getting help this holiday season, we’re fortunate to have so many great organizations near us that help those in need.

For starters, Bath Area Food Bank is organizing their annual Turkey Trot fundraiser on Thanksgiving morning to help support their work. You can learn more about the Trot and sign up by going to their website at In addition to their food pantry, they also operate a soup kitchen. The soup kitchen runs noon – 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the food pantry is open 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday and noon to 2 p.m. on Thursdays.  If you have questions about either service, you can call (207) 737-9289.

Other local organizations include the Richmond Food Pantry, which serves residents of Richmond, Dresden and Bowdoinham. They’re open 4-6 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month and 9-11 a.m. on the third Saturday of every month. For more information, you can visit their website at or call at (207) 607-2777. Registration, including proof of residency, is required. Additionally, the Bowdoinham Food Pantry is open Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m., and can also help with emergency situations. More information can be found at their website,, or by calling (207) 751-7779.

When you’re looking to donate to a food pantry, I’d encourage you to reach out to see if they’re in particular need of certain items. Proteins — including canned beans, chicken, ham and tuna, and jars of peanut butter — are incredibly useful. Shelf-stable staples including rice, pasta and powdered milk are filling and versatile. Canned soups, stews, vegetables and fruit are always welcome. But there are other donations that people don’t often think of that can really brighten a family’s day. Things like salt, pepper, dried herbs and spices can add flavor to an otherwise basic meal. Baby food and formula are expensive and often difficult for families to afford. When you’re looking for items to donate, plastic jars instead of glass, and cans with pop tops, are best. You can also ask your local pantry if they accept items such as toilet paper, diapers, soaps, toothpaste and toothbrushes, sanitary pads and tampons, and other personal hygiene and household products.

Beyond food pantries and soup kitchens, I’m always happy to see other ways our neighbors give back. A great example of this is Midcoast Pizza and More, located in Bath, which hosts an annual free Thanksgiving dinner. This year, the meal is being served between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., but delivery options are also available. You can call 443-6631 to make a reservation. They’re also accepting donations to help the Bath Area Food Bank. This is such a wonderful tradition, and I’m happy to see it continue.

I’m so grateful to live in Maine, where neighbors look out for each other in times of need, without hesitation. I know families who spend holidays volunteering at community meals, or who make it a point to regularly donate to local charities. Countless others show small acts of kindness every day, whether that’s checking in on an elderly neighbor, helping watch children after school until their working parents get home, or bringing groceries to people who may be sick or stuck at home for another reason. I’m thankful for the community of caring we live in, for acts of generosity both big and small. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy a very happy Thanksgiving.

Eloise Vitelli is a state senator representing District 23, consisting of Arrowsic, Bath, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Dresden, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Richmond, Topsham, West Bath, Woolwich and the unorganized township of Perkins.

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