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Maine Clammers Association to help families in need

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Maine Clammers Association to help families in need

FREEPORT — The Maine Clammers Association is sponsoring a Santa Fund drive to raise money for families in need during the holiday season.

Chad Coffin, MCA president, said last year the group started a pilot program in the Brunswick area to help families with financial difficulties to provide gifts for their children and enjoy a few comforts during the holidays.

This year has been particularly difficult, Coffin said, because of extensive clam flat closures due to red tide and water pollution, and the economic downturn.

"The MCA feels blessed with the support of the community and we are really glad to have the opportunity to give back," he said.

Coffin said the original plan was to help clammers and fishermen and their families, but he said the stories of hardship are so severe throughout the area they couldn't limit it to the clamming community. The donations will go to families in the Downeast, Mid-Coast and southern Maine areas, regardless of occupation or connection to the MCA.

One family in the Mid-Coast region was struck by tragedy when the mother of five children died, leaving the children – all under the age of 10 – to be raised by their grandmother. The children are being cared for, but the woman is struggling. Funds and gifts will also help support at least three widows whose husbands have died in drowning or fishing accidents, and help will be provided to at least two clammers who were diagnosed with terminal cancer and can't work.

"We know we can't financially rescue everyone who has needs, but there are so many people we feel we can help," Coffin said. "These diggers are struggling themselves, but are finding ways to help donate clams, money and gifts to those who are worse off then they are."

The goal, he said, is to have contributions in place by Dec. 15 so gifts can be purchased, wrapped and delivered by the holidays. Coffin said he would like to raise at least $6,000.

To donate a financial gift, send a check payable to 2009 Santa Fund to MCA, P.O. Box 26, Freeport, ME 04032. Presents can be dropped off at the Freeport Masonic Lodge on Mallet Drive on Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. To find out ages and genders of recipients, call 615-5640.

In addition, the MCA will host a steamer supper to benefit the Santa Fund from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Freeport Masonic Lodge. Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for children under 12 and those under 5 are free.

"This donation fund is a win-win for the clammers and the community," Coffin said. "We can make a difference by giving a little something to others."

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net