FARMINGTON —  A masquerade ball planned for Saturday is a fundraiser for projects undertaken by Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Franklin County.

“But it’s mostly about donors coming out and having a fun time,” said member Jon Bubier. “A way to overcome the winter blues while helping the community.”

Rather than solicit local businesses for donations, the small group prefers to provide fun events for donors. Profits will go toward projects for local people.

The ball begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, with a champagne social in the North Dining Hall of the Student Center at the University of Maine at Farmington. Along with champagne, snack foods and a chocolate fountain will be offered.

Members of  The Ice Out Band  have donated their time for dancing  from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m., Bubier said.

Tickets are $20 per person and are available at Douin’s Market in New Sharon, Madore’s Market in West Farmington or Ron’s Market. Other donations are also accepted, he said.

Masks are required, he added.

Formed a little more than a year ago, the mission of the group of about 20 members includes doing small projects for those in need who may not be eligible for help from other programs, he said.

One project coming up will help a local resident put siding on his home. The person’s insurance company contacted the group, saying it was ready to cancel his policy even though the homeowner had bought the siding. He just didn’t have the resources to hire someone to install it, Bubier said. With three or four members working together, it will only take about four hours, he said.

Other projects under consideration include helping a resident with a leaky roof and a problem with their steps, fixing a church bell and helping to finish a school bus playhouse for a family with a couple of handicapped children, he said.

The group has accepted referrals from the United Way and Western Maine Community Action.  They’ve also received donations from Franklin Savings Bank and an individual from Rangeley.

“It’s not just about Farmington. It’s about Franklin County,” he said.

Completed projects include fixing doorsteps, helping a couple of children go to summer camp, providing taxi rides home for patients at Franklin Memorial Hospital and supporting fundraising activities of a UMF leadership group who bought Christmas presents for area children.

They also tried to hire a tree trimmer for a Temple resident. The tree overshadowed his home which was being damaged by falling limbs. The tree trimmer did the work and then donated his time, Bubier said.

The camping funds were partially raised by the children. The UMF students did all the work on their project. The group likes to see an effort made, he said. 

Requests for oil or to pay someone’s cable television bill have been denied. The group has a request form and reviews each case deciding whether it’s something they can do, he added.

Some members are business owners who are often solicited for good things. This is the fourth fundraiser the group has sponsored. Others included an amazing race event, a scavenger hunt and a barn dance that hosted 250 people, he said.

Requests for help may be made to Bubier at Ron’s Market. Donations may be sent to Neighbors Helping Neighbors of Franklin County C/O Western Maine Community Action, P.O. Box 200, East Wilton, ME 04234.

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