By Ramona du Houx
Unions members who work at the Sappi Fine Paper in Skowhegan raised $15,854 in their annual Christmas Dinner Harvest drive and delivered Christmas dinners and donations to local area foodbanks on December 17th and 18th.
"It gets better every time," said Cindy Rancourt, Recording Secretary of United Steelworkers Local 9. "It was very successful, everyone was very happy. We want to help the community out. This was a big effort from a lot of people working together."
Workers who are members of United Steelworkers Local 9 along with members of three other local unions at Sappi have been working to raise the money to provide meals to families in need and donations to community food cupboards for Christmas.
"We're so glad to be able to help out families in our community who may be struggling to make ends meet this holiday season," said Patrick Carleton of Chesterville, a paper maker at Sappi and President of United Steelworkers Local 9. "We were able to purchase an incredible amount of food, we filled 11 trucks completely, an 18 foot trailer, and a 12 foot trailer. We have already heard back from a few of the foodbanks saying thank you, they didn’t expect to receive so much."
The collection has happened annually since 2008.
Union members loaded 11 trucks and two trailers to deliver food to 11 different community foodbanks as well as delivering 100 complete Christmas Dinners. The towns include Fairfield, Vassalboro, Waterville, Oakland, Skowhegan, Mercer, Smithfield, Madison, Solon, Starks and Farmington.
In addition to the funds raised by union members, donation were contributed by Sappi Fine Paper, Fairfield grocer the Village Market, and Associated Grocers of New England.
In addition to the Christmas dinners and food cupboard donations, the members also purchased and delivered comfort items to the Veterans Volunteer Services at Togus on December 17th. These items include winter socks, shampoo, soap, shaving cream, razors and electric shavers, gas cards, Hannaford cards for groceries, mittens, hats, light jackets, sweatshirts and a few games.
Union volunteers met today at the Village Market on Main Street, Fairfield where they purchased and loaded food and drove it to the USW Local 4-9 Union Hall. It was then divided up, loaded onto trucks, and went out to the communities.
Afterwards the Christmas Harvest Drive Committee held their Annual Meeting to start planning for next year.