Gilman Dube stood in his front doorway early Wednesday, his face revealing a look of utter surprise.
He knew he had not ordered heating oil, but the familiar faces of his oil delivery men were at his door. One of the delivery men was holding flowers and a box of chocolates.
“We’re here to wish you a happy Valentine’s Day and fill up your oil tank,” said Brandin Daigneault, a delivery driver for Murray-Heutz Oil & Propane of Turner and Lewiston.
“But I didn’t order any,” Dube said.
“It’s free today. Our way to thank you for being such a great customer over the years,” said Roger Pelletier, the other Murray-Heutz driver, who wore a large smile.
After a brief moment of disbelief, Dube gingerly set down the flowers and box of chocolates he had been handed, shook the mens’ hands and thanked them. Dube then looked back at the chocolates and flowers, shaking his head in seeming disbelief.
Meanwhile, the delivery men returned to their custom-painted truck, dragged the hose up Dube’s driveway on Gosnold Street in Auburn and topped off his nearly empty tank.
As Dube watched, a big smile came across his face, even if he was at a loss for words.
It was the third stop of the morning for the delivery crew. They would visit nine homes in Turner, Lewiston, Auburn, Greene, Jay and Livermore throughout the day, delivering nearly 2,000 gallons of free heating oil to appreciative people during the company’s third year of the Fuel Your Love program.
In Livermore, Saundra Bifulco and her husband, Pasquale, were recipients of a much-needed free delivery.
“We have been going through a lot these past few months and I truly believe it was a gift from God,” Saundra Bifulco said. “Our car was totaled in an accident recently and my husband has cancer, so we have been struggling lately and bills have been piling up.
“I knew we needed oil, but just couldn’t order any at this time. We have been blessed living in such a caring and generous community all through this, and we cannot thank them enough.”
According to John Tolan, chief operations officer at Sail Energy, of which Murray-Heutz Oil is a member, the program that provides free oil deliveries on Valentine’s Day was initiated by the Maine Energy Marketers Association, with whom Sail Energy partners. Several other oil delivery companies in Maine took part in the program Wednesday.
“We have been looking for ways to give back to our community for a long time and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to say thank you to some of our valued customers,” Tolan said.
“This year has been especially brutal with the cold snap we have had, and it is only the middle of February, so a lot of people’s budgets are stretched and this is something we hope will make a difference in their lives.”