Cumberland Wood Bank helps turn lumber into fuel funds

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CUMBERLAND — As the warm days of summer give way to the chill of autumn and winter, the Cumberland Wood Bank wants to make sure as many residents as possible keep warm, whether they can afford it or not.

The Wood Bank’s crew will meet at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, on Drowne Road behind the Public Works garage, to deliver wood to customers who have purchased it – and possibly to bring wood to people in need who can burn it.

Money raised from selling the wood goes toward purchasing fuel for people in need who cannot burn wood, according to Bruce Wildes, who chairs the committee that collects, processes and delivers the wood.

Diane Bennekamper, reverend at the Cumberland Congregational Church, allocates the wood and money to people in need in the greater Cumberland area, Wildes said.

“There are people that can use the help, and this is a way to give back to the community,” Wildes said.

The bank – which gets its wood through donations, as long as the material has already been cut – has been delivering wood for several years. The amount is driven by demand; about 45 cords were delivered in the last two years.

“We get a lot of demand as the weather starts to turn,” Wildes said.

The number of volunteers to deliver the wood is also a factor in how many deliveries are made.

“We always need volunteers,” Wildes said. “… We definitely need trucks and trailers, but we also need muscles.”

Those interested in volunteering, donating wood or buying wood can reach Wildes at 370-8210 or People in need can call Bennekamper at 829-3419.

As of last week the bank had about half of its needed inventory for the season, which amounts to about 20 to 25 cords. “We’re going to be in need of more wood,” Wildes said.

He noted that he tends to find more people in need who burn oil, rather than wood.

“So we ended up find that it was just as advantageous to sell it to people who could afford to buy it,” Wildes said, “and people like to buy it from us, knowing that all of the proceeds are going to go to somebody that needs help.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.