Project GRACE, which stands for Granting Resources and Assistance through Community Effort, helps keep the heat on in for about 70 Scarborough homes each winter.

The 11th annual Project GRACE fuel rally on Feb. 11 was a town-wide effort to replenish the nonprofit’s coffers, with about a dozen community organizations working together to raise $28,000.

Live jazz music by the Hadacol Bouncers set a festive tone at Scarborough Town Hall. Ladies from the Lions Club and Bessey Commons nursing home sold baked goods, Friends of the Scarborough Public Library sold grab bags of books, and Project GRACE volunteers collected checks.

“We’re a local nonprofit that helps Scarborough residents who fall on hard times and need fuel assistance,” said board President Alberta Follansbee. “Maybe you just lost your job or have a sick family member. We try to help people who might not be covered by other services and who might otherwise be choosing between necessities like prescriptions and keeping their home comfortable, especially the elderly and families with small children. Our phones ring more often the higher the price of fuel, the lower the temperatures and the longer winter lingers.”

Mark Jones, president of Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution and a board member of Shutterbugs 4 Charity, which raises money for charitable causes, said, “A lot of times, the working middle class doesn’t qualify for other assistance. We love Project GRACE’s heating assistance project and everything else they do.”

Next door at the Public Safety Building, volunteers distributed pre-ordered quarts of haddock chowder and brisket chili and cornbread – all made by Bread & Butter Catering. Each “by donation” order came with a couple of chocolate-coconut candies from Maine Needham Company, based in Saco.


“This is an important fundraiser for citizens in Scarborough this time of year, with the high cost of fuel,” said Police Chief Mark Holmquist, who was greeting donors at curbside pickup.

Over the past decade, Project GRACE fuel rallies have raised more than $157,000.

“It takes a lot of people to make it work, to give the event lift, to hit the fundraising target,” said Executive Director Steffi Cox. “Our Rally to Keep Our Neighbors Warm is successful because it’s a community effort, it’s one town with one purpose: let’s not leave anyone in the cold.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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