If you put any stock in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that rates Maine 49th in the nation in charitable giving, you might be forced to believe that Mainers are not all that charitable.

You would be wrong.

We are.

On Tuesday, Farmington selectmen established a relief fund for the town’s sister city of Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Locals — including police officers and firefighters — have already donated their time and professional services to help this distressed community, where 50 people are believed to have been killed when a runaway train derailed and exploded there last weekend.

They’ve given their time and expertise. Now, they will give their money.

The town started the relief fund with $500 from its special projects fund, and is now calling on people to give what they can.

Farmington and Lac-Megantic have been “sisters” since 1991, when the Farmington Chamber of Commerce reached over to its northern neighbors to build commerce and friendship. Now, this town will do what it can to help its “sister” heal.

The relief fund is established at TD Bank branches in Farmington, and donations can be mailed to the bank at 163 Broadway or 670 Wilton Road, zip code 04938, or delivered in person. “Lac-Megantic” must be written somewhere on the check.

Town Manager Richard Davis has encouraged residents to “open their hearts and wallets to the extent that they can,” and intends to reach out to other town managers to encourage contributions from across the state.

“God forbid,” Davis said, “what if it happened to Farmington?”

While tough to think about, this scale of destruction can happen anywhere, as we have seen with tornadoes in Kansas, Nebraska, Mississippi, Iowa and Illinois, and with wildfires in Colorado and Arizona, and floods in Oklahoma, Wisconsin and across the northern Plains, so far this year. This nation also witnessed a devastating industrial accident last April when 14 people died in the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.

The stories of pain and horror that have come out of Lac-Megantic are wrenching. These victims are hurting and need the help of their neighbors.

Cheers to Davis and Farmington for offering a helping, human hand.

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The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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