On January 20th, the Sanford-Springvale Rotary Club held an event to raise funds and donate cold weather clothing items for the homeless.
Elias Thomas III, Past District Governor of Rotary, conceived of the idea – JANUARY THAW, as a means to attract residents in the area to gather for good food and drink, at the same time donating funds and warm clothing items to benefit the homeless population in the City of Sanford. Thomas and his daughter, Heather Beaupre (a past president of the Rotary Club, and current co-president) presented the idea to owners of Kai Asian Fusion, Hai Lin (Tony) and his wife, Jindyan Liao (Luisa), who prepared fantastic Sushi, Tempura and other Asian delicacies for the event.
A very generous donation from EXIT Key Real Estate in Shapleigh, combined with revenue from ticket sales and other donations, were matched by a grant program of EXIT Realty Corp. International. In all, nearly $10,000 was raised to benefit the homeless in Sanford.
Deputy Police Chief Eric Small said “Partnerships are critical in addressing homelessness in our community. The Sanford-Springvale Rotary Club, Sanford Housing Authority, and the Sanford Police Department will always work together to help those people experiencing homelessness in our City. The Sanford Police Department would like to thank the Sanford-Springvale Rotary, and Kai Asian Fusion for making this fundraiser and subsequent donation possible.”
Detective Colleen Adams, the Police Department’s Community Resource Officer, shared her thoughts: “I cannot wait to offer these items to our community members on Wednesday for the Point in Time count, which is a yearly event to count those who are unhoused so that the state and community knows what is needed for funds and programs.” She continued, “I also picked several of each items for a desk in my office that is dubbed the ‘giving desk’ where any officer can grab items off of this desk and give to those they meet who need warm items such as coats, food, gloves, socks, toiletries, etc.”
Diane Gerry, director of Sanford Housing Authority added: “This fundraiser provided not only money and warm clothing to people unhoused, it also brought an awareness to our community that we have people experiencing homelessness. People may not be “seen” this time of year as they are trying to find a warm place to be, whether that is sheltered inside or huddled in a doorway; it is cold and stressful and extremely dangerous. Thank you to all who are helping. The gift of warmth and the ability to provide true and available resources to people to help them out of homelessness is one of the greatest things we can do as a community.”
Mr. Thomas hopes that JANUARY THAW will become an annual event for Sanford-Springvale Rotary, which will celebrate its centennial year of service to our communities in 2023.
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