Greater Portland United Way sets goal of $8.2M

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PORTLAND — United Way of Greater Portland hopes to raise $8.2 million in its annual campaign, which began Friday, Sept. 14, in Monument Square with a canned-food sculpture contest.

Funds raised will support the United Way’s Thrive 2027 initiative, which has three goals: to improve early learning opportunities, provide financial stability for those most at risk, and reduce preventable premature death, with a focus on mental health, substance use disorder and suicide prevention.

To donate to the annual campaign, go online to

Deanna Sherman, CEO at Dead River Co. and vice chairwoman of the annual campaign, said Friday that the fundraising effort is all about “changing lives, person by person and dollar by dollar.”

She said 220 organizations have signed on to help support the annual campaign and The John T. Gorman Foundation, Dead River Company, IDEXX, MEMIC, and WEX are matching 100 percent of new contributions, up to $200,000.

“This is what community is all about,” Sherman said.

Fourteen local companies participated in the third annual canned-food sculpture contest, with L.L. Bean earning the Best in Show award for its Maine moose constructed entirely of Bush’s baked bean cans.

Other winners included Hannaford Bros. Co., which won the Community Choice Award; WEX, Most Nutritious Sculpture, and IDEXX, Most On Brand award for its sculpture shaped like a cow.

After the contest, all of the canned food was donated to Wayside Food Programs, which will distribute the donations to food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters throughout Cumberland County.

This moose, created out of B&M baked bean cans by a team from L.L. Bean, won the Best in Show award at the United Way of Greater Portland’s third annual canned-food sculpture contest Sept. 14 in Monument Square.