DEAR SUN SPOTS: We are a group of six and when we go out to a restaurant or buffet, the bill comes and there is a gratuity of 17 percent. Do I have to pay the whole bill or can I give half for the service we get? — Dominik Klinger, South Paris.

ANSWER: Automatic gratuity is technically mandatory in the state of Maine. Think of it as a “service charge,” an agreement between you, the consumer, and the restaurant to pay a little more because of the extra work your server has to do to accommodate a larger party in his or her section of the restaurant. Larger parties typically take longer to eat and hang around longer after eating, which prevents that server from “turning over” the table for the next paying (and tipping) customer, so it makes sense that when caring for a larger party, the tip might be a bit higher.

There are also some misconceptions about the new minimum wage law. Remember that tipped workers are only making $1 more per hour each year. That means that your server is still only making around $5 an hour, so if your service is good, please tip accordingly.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Clean Sweep, Bates College’s giant yard sale, is coming back to the Bates campus on June 17. We are accepting applications for nonprofit organizations that want to help with the setup and running of the sale. We can really use people who can lift and haul furniture and large items, but we also need volunteers who are willing to sort and organize mounds and mounds of items left behind by students. We also need organizations that have tables available to be used during the sale. Go to for the application and the details about volunteering or you can email for more information. — Pat Pelliccia, Clean Sweep coordinator.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: If you are looking for a way to give back, or just to spend time doing something positive in the community, the Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine is seeking volunteers who can make a big difference to those affected by cancer. Located at 199 Main St. in Norway, the center offers a quiet place with helpful resources, support groups, a lending library and a variety of wellness programs for survivors and caregivers. Want to hear more? Contact Sue at 207-890-0226 or Barb at 207-739-9612. You may also check out their website, and download a volunteer application.

The Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine is in the Stephens Memorial Hospital Specialty Clinic building. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Thursday and Friday. We offer a variety of programs and comfort items, free to anyone affected by cancer. Find us on Facebook or call Sherri at 207-890-7063.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: The Lewiston Memorial Day Parade is May 27, starting at 9:30 a.m. at Kennedy Park. All organizations are welcome. We need volunteers to help set up.

The next day, May 28, at St. Peter’s Cemetery at 10 a.m., we need volunteers to place flags on veterans’ graves. There are about 3,000 of them. For more information, contact my email, Thanks. — Jerry DeWitt, Lewiston.

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