Friday, October 9, 2009

Neighbors helping Neighbors in North Berwick

By Barbara Leech
Staff Columnist
Last year the Neighborly Craft Fair, a fundraising effort started by three local women, raised $5,000 for North Berwick’s fuel assistance program and the town’s food pantry. That total was matched dollar for dollar, bringing in $10,000 for those in need. This year, the trio hopes they can match or surpass what they describe as an unexpected success.
“We had no idea this would bring in so much funding….we just wanted to do whatever we could. We were ecstatic with the result,” Rindy Hilton, one of the Neighborly Craft Fair organizers said, “For three friends who started this not knowing what we were doing, we were amazed at the generosity and how everyone we asked to help just said yes.”
Hilton says they will continue to hold the fair as long as the economy drags and people are in need.
“Unfortunately we are back by popular demand. There are many people who have lost their jobs in our community,” she says. “The need is there this year as much as last, so we are going to do our part.”
The craft fair is set for Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the North Berwick Primary School gymnasium. The fee for crafters to rent a table is $20 plus a donation of one of their craft items for the raffle table. All proceeds from the event including the sale of lunch, prepared by Nobel High’s culinary students and served by volunteers from the ladies auxiliary, raffles, a silent auction, and monetary donations will be split 50-50 between the North Berwick Fuel Assistance program and the town food pantry.
According to fellow organizer Katie Jacques, about 20 crafters have signed up so far, but they are hoping to get that number to 50 crafters by the Nov. 6 enrollment deadline.
“We would love to do it bigger and better, but last year was so successful we will have to work hard to top it,” she said. “It’s amazing to witness neighbors stepping up to help their neighbors. We had one woman come in and just give cash, saying she wasn’t sending holiday cards that year…instead she would help someone stay warm.”
Last year the grand total from the fair was matched by a $3,500 donation from the Cecil B. Day Fund and $1,500 from the town’s four church organizations. Donations of raffle items came not just from crafters but from local businesses such as Appledore Cove and Carpe Diem Coffee. Crafters ranged from traditional knitters, woodcrafters and artists to bakers of specialized doggy biscuits.
Though the town has a general assistance program set up by the state, there are many who may not meet state qualifications for assistance but still are in financial need. The Fuel Assistance Program is for those who fit that category of need.
Hilton, Jacques and fellow organizer Janet Belmain are currently looking at foundations that would pledge to provide matching dollars to the fair’s grand total. Regardless of the financial outcome the trio says they feel like the community has made this effort a success.
“I have never been involved in anything quite like this….to see everyone come together to help,” Hilton says. “It is an amazing thing. It makes you proud of North Berwick and the people who live here.”
Applications for the craft fair are available online at or contact Katie Jacques at 676-3353, Rindy Hilton at 676-4414 or Jan Belmain at 676-3368.