ROCKLAND—Good Tern, the co-op that rounds up change for worthy causes each month as covered in a previous PenBay Pilot story, is dedicating the month of March to the Portland-based community effort, Maine Needs, which accepts donations of clothing and household items to benefit families in need through caseworkers all over Maine.
They also accept Essential Care Kits. These are care packages you can make as though they were a gift to someone you will probably never meet. Picture a family that has just moved out of a homeless shelter into their first apartment and the first thing they see when they walk into the kitchen is a Cleaning & Toiletry kit, consisting of sponges, soaps, toilet bowl cleaner, trash bags, shampoo, and conditioner. What a relief it is to have essential cleaning tools already in place.
Or picture a young man who has just started getting his life back after hitting rock bottom. The “New Start Kit” with its toiletry items, socks, a granola bar, and a bus pass gives him the dignity to get up in the morning, shower and shave, take the bus that day.
It’s a blast of kindness from one Mainer to another when times are already hard enough. It’s the verbal equivalent of: “Let me make this easier for you.”
Elissa Bower, the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Good Tern Co-op, has been overseeing the kits this month.
“We just got our first kit a few days ago,” she said. “It was a ‘Minute For Mom Kit, which was really sweet. It had a box of tea, a candle, some razors and washcloths, lotion, and a chapstick,” she said.
Mini Warmth Kits
Art Therapy Kits
A New Start Kits
A Minute For Mom Kits
$10 Cleaning Kits
What people choose to put into a kit is up to them. Maine Needs provides a potential list for each kit but leaves it up to the provider to customize.
“We’re offering to collect those kits for Maine Needs this month and I’ll either drive them down to Portland or we might be able to distribute them to families right here in the Midcoast,” said Bower.
At the time of this article, Good Tern had been working with Midcoast organizations serving families in need to connect them with Maine Needs and establish a permanent drop-off and distribution location in Rockland.
Even if people prefer not to assemble the kits themselves, Good Tern is still taking donations either at the register as a round-up or over the phone in dollar amounts for Maine Needs.
“It makes me so happy; it brings butterflies to my stomach when I see how much people do care for one another,” said Bower. “You’re never going to meet the person who received the kit, but just making it, and knowing how grateful the person is going to be to receive it—that’s how the world goes round.”
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org