Aroostook organizations encourage kind acts for Jan. 5 Day of Service for Maine Citizens
PRESQUE ISLE – Responding to a call for statewide Day of Service for Maine Citizens on January 5, four Aroostook County civic-minded organizations are encouraging people to give back in their communities with acts of kindness. The Maine Commission for Community Service is coordinating the day at the request of Governor-elect Janet Mills, who officially takes office earlier in the week.
United Way of Aroostook, Aroostook County Action Program, Presque Isle Rotary and Presque Isle Kiwanis are hoping a Day of Service for Maine Citizens will cause people to be mindful of how their small acts of kindness can have big impacts, and also set the stage for an entire year of giving in 2019. Giving can take on many forms, but for this January 5, it’s the small things that count as far as Sherry Locke, Executive Director of United Way and past president of Presque Isle Kiwanis, is concerned.
“United Way of Aroostook encourages individuals, families, businesses and civic organizations to ‘Give Where They Live’ each and every day. When we think of giving we typically think of monetary gifts and although those are very important to the work we do, we also recognize the importance of giving of your time and acts of kindness that can make our communities stronger,” said Locke.
Locke, along with ACAP Executive Director/CEO and President of Presque Isle Rotary Jason Parent, said that while other organizations across the state were planning larger volunteer projects in their communities, the weather and time of year made that difficult to plan those larger scale initiatives in Aroostook County. So instead, their respective organizations consciously made the decision to support the Day of Service for Maine Citizens by fostering a broader spirit of community. The idea is that nearly anyone in nearly any situation can give a small piece of themselves simply by choosing to be kind.
“Hold the door open for someone, return a cart for someone at the store, or even just share your smile,” said Locke about how simple it can be to give on January 5 or on any day.
For people who may be looking to do something on a bit of a larger scale in the spirit of community giving, there are many other ideas to consider, each requiring a varying amount of conscious effort. These include, dropping off some baked treats at your local fire or police station, registering for a day to prepare a meal at the county homeless shelter, contacting an animal shelter to walk dogs or spend time with the animals, shoveling the steps and walk path for a neighbor, checking in on someone who lives alone, or delivering some food to your local food cupboard.
“Really, the only limitation to how you might help in your community is your own imagination,” said Parent. “You can even make community giving a family bonding experience by finding something to do that’s both meaningful to the community and a meaningful activity for your family to participate in together.”
There are always community projects taking place. Maybe your community giving starts at home by cleaning out your cupboards or book shelves. United Way is currently accepting donations of gently used books for their new Book Nook at the Aroostook Center Mall. Also, Aroostook County credit unions are tackling hunger by accepting donations of cans of soup as part of a national Souper Bowl of Caring until February 22. Anyone can drop off cans of soup or make a donation to the soup can drive at their local credit union in 16 locations around The County. Every $1 collected in donations will purchase a can of soup for distribution. All donations will benefit people in Aroostook County.
If none of those ideas inspire you, then consider contacting a local church, school, hospital, nursing home, library or any other community organization to see what special projects they might be working on or needs they have on which you could lend your time to help. 
“We are excited about the Day of Service for Maine Citizens and encourage everyone to take part by doing something that will positively affect others. A simple act of kindness can cause a ripple effect throughout our community and that simple act of kindness can start with you,” said Locke.