Catholic Charities Gears Up to Help Residents This Winter

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 4:38 PM EDT
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Monticello, Maine (WAGM) - It may be hard to believe, but we’re about two weeks away from the start of fall and winter won’t be far behind. Advocates for the poor are worried the coming months could make a bad situation even worse, as home heating challenges create more problems for those struggling to get enough to eat. Over at Catholic Charities Maine, workers and volunteers are doubling down on their efforts to raise money so they can feed even more people in the communities they serve. News Source 8′s Sherry Karabin spoke to the nonprofit’s hunger and relief services program director to see how the organization is preparing.

Dixie Shaw, Hunger & Relief Services Program Director, Catholic Charities Maine, “We are busier now than we’ve ever been.”

And while Shaw admits she’s uttered those words many times before, she says rising prices on food and other necessities are creating a dire scenario that’s shaping up to be worse than the one Catholic Charities Maine dealt with during the pandemic.

Dixie Shaw, “During the pandemic, we thought things were crazy, but there were resources available that are no longer available and here we are with this economy; so many people are struggling. They’re just having a hard time making ends meet and I don’t care who it is. I don’t care if you’re working full time, I don’t care if you’re not working or if you’re on a fixed income. It’s a people are struggling at every level.”

Catholic Charities Maine supplies a wide variety of food, including fresh produce grown by local farmers to 28 food pantries in Aroostook, northern Penobscot and northwest Washington counties.

On Wednesday morning, workers at the Monticello warehouse were loading their trucks with supplies for food pantries in northern Aroostook County.

“We distribute food once a month all we have to the pantries and they take it back to their pantries and they distribute it to the people. If they run out or need something extra they contact us throughout the month and we do our best to fill that need to the best of our ability. During the pandemic, we had some pantries coming to us weekly just because they had so much more demand on their pantries.”

To ensure local pantries stay stocked, Catholic Charities Maine is in constant fundraising mode, relying on residents to attend various events. They also partner with WAGM and United Way to hold a spring telethon each year.

Sherry Karabin Reporting “Another way the organization raises money is by selling the items that people donate at its thrift stores. During the pandemic, those stores took a big hit, but they’re starting to make a comeback.”

Dixie Shaw, “Our thrift stores are doing better financially because people are looking for bargains and I will tell you we’ve got the best bargains in the entire state of Maine.”

While the nonprofit will continue to do its very best to feed those who are hungry, Shaw says rising food prices combined with increased heating costs this winter may put some people in the unenviable position of having to cut back in one area or the other.

Dixie Shaw, “You gotta have heat and we gotta eat. You know we just have to have those things, so something has to give. Well you’re going to have people that will be hungry and probably won’t have what they need and want to eat and you’re gonna have people that are cold. I expect our thrift stores to sell a ton of blankets.”

In Monticello this is Sherry Karabin reporting for News Source 8.