Eighth-grader’s idea inspiring action

A proposal by St. James School eighth-grader Igor Bitencourt has inspired a schoolwide Advent initiative to help more than 60 Biddeford students who are experiencing homelessness to have a special Christmas.

Over the past few weeks, students, staff, and community members have brought food items, such like cereal, cookies, chips, granola bars, juice boxes, and fruit snacks to be assembled into gift baskets by Grade 8 students to be distributed to children living in shelters, hotels, and the houses of their friends. Monetary gifts for the projects also were received.

“Soup kitchens provide meals once a day to people living in the hotels. However, not everyone enjoys what they are providing,” wrote Bitencourt. “Fortunately, kids love snacks. We can pack snacks for these kids so they can have something else to eat throughout the day when they are hungry or if they don’t like the meal the center provided.”

In 2020, Bitencourt’s sister, Adriana, received a great deal of attention in the community and from the media thanks to her successful initiative collecting food, toys, and grocery money to donate to the refugee community living in Maine.


Adriana, now a student at Cheverus High School in Portland, is running a similar campaign this year at Cheverus to benefit the homeless in Portland.

“(Adriana) is doing it for the Portland homeless population, and I was hoping to run it for the Biddeford population,” said Igor. “We are definitely working together to make the projects work.”

St. James Principal Nancy Naimey said, “The children feel the need to help others, particularly these kids and their families. It makes us proud.”

In other school news, students, teachers, staff, and friends of St. James School raised over $20,400 in pledges for their participation in the St. James Trot for Catholic Education 5K Run/Walk and Kids’ Fun Run held in November. It was the highest amount raised in the event to date.

For the second straight year, the fundraiser, which directly benefits students, was held virtually with walkers and runners completing their exercise individually and as families.



St. Thomas School raises over $16,000 from Mingle Jingle event

St. Thomas School is celebrating a record-breaking Mingle Jingle Run 5K fundraising event that raised more than $16,000 for the school.

Held both in person and virtually in November, nearly 200 runners, walkers, and bikers participated in the Mingle Jingle, which also included a vendor fair with close to 30 organizations and businesses participating at the Memorial Gym.

The event was organized by Dena Carbone and Sarah Payeur, two St. Thomas parents, and sponsored by a number of local businesses, including Genest Concrete and Townhouse Properties in Sanford.


Credit union gives food pantries a lift


Town & Country Federal Credit Union spread some holiday cheer over the last week through contributions to local food pantries in each community it has a branch, as well as other hunger organizations that serve its membership area of Cumberland and York counties. Collectively, the credit union’s contributions will fund approximately 25,000 meals.

The credit union delivered checks to the following hunger organizations: The Locker Project in Scarborough, which delivers food to 30 preschools, schools and neighborhood sites in Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, and Gorham; Biddeford Food Pantry; Preble Street in Portland; Saco Food Pantry; Scarborough Food Pantry; South Portland Food Pantry; and the Wayside Food Program in Portland.


‘Box of Joy’ program collects hundreds of gifts for kids

Thanks to generous parishioners and community members from around York County, hundreds of mission children in South America will receive presents at Christmas through the “Box of Joy” program.

Sponsored by Holy Spirit Parish of Kennebunk and Wells, program volunteers collected 354 boxes of Christmas gifts for children who may have never received a Christmas gift before.


“This outreach project was a huge success,” said Carolyn Houston, director of faith formation at Holy Spirit Parish. “From the many volunteers who assembled the boxes and packaged them for shipping to the people who filled the boxes, it was truly a great team effort.”

Thanks to Cross Catholic Outreach, all the boxes will be delivered to children in need living in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.


Church members collect 250 pounds of food for pantry

The First Congregational Church of Kennebunkport held a food drive and parking lot Christmas fair on Dec. 4 to benefit the Food Pantry of York County Shelter Programs. Church members collected more than 250 pounds of food and delivered to the Food Pantry, along with a check for $1,000.



Library announces change in hours

The Carrabassett Valley Public Library has announced a change its hours at 3209 Carrabassett Drive, No. 3.

The library will be closed this Friday and Saturday and again on Jan. 1 in observance of the holidays. Library hours will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 27; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 28, 29 and 30; and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Effective Jan. 2 until Patriot’s Day the hours will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The library will be closed on Sundays and Mondays, except for an occasional Monday during vacations, which will be announced on Facebook.

For more details, call the library at 237-3535.



Camden National Bank recognizes six 2021 Leaders & Luminaries awardees

Camden National Bank announced its 2021 Leaders & Luminaries award winners, providing $25,000 in grants for their respective organizations. The bank’s independent selection committee narrowed the pool of nominations down to four winners, each receiving $5,000 grants.

The 2021 honorees include Kim Pittman from Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project; Shannon Richards from Maine Crafts Association; Pam Dyer Stewart from Women for Healthy Rural Living; and Barbara Wirth from Maine Boys to Men.

This year, Camden National Bank also recognized two additional winners. Desiree Tyrrell, board chair of the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition at Orono, will receive a Spotlight Award and Kaylee Wolfe, executive director at Speak About It of Portland, will receive an Emerging Leader Award, each receiving $2,500 grants.

Donations were funded through the bank’s private charitable foundation, The Bank of Maine Foundation.

To learn more, visit

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