Following the Sept. 16 explosion at the LEAP Inc. building in Farmington students at Spruce Mountain Middle School in Jay asked their principal if they could hold fundraisers to help the victims. Students involved are, pictured seated from left Julie Mercier, Mary Hamblin, Brooklyn Fournier and Brenden Veilleux. Standing from left are Faith Maurais, Alexis Cote, Peyton Reichenbach, Abigail Burhoe, Brianna Burhoe, Arianna Donahue and Dylan Jackson. Absent were Hunter Bibeau, Brooke Schoonover and Tyler Guay. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser


JAY — Eighth grade students at Spruce Mountain Middle School were in class Monday morning, Sept. 16 when they felt vibrations and began to hear sirens. After they learned what had happened, they brainstormed how to help.

Dylan Jackson wrote a letter to Principal Greg Henderson asking if the class could hold a Hat Day to help the 30 families that lost their homes in the explosion. He suggested placing “Donations are accepted to help the families from the Farmington LEAP building explosion” on the community board at the bottom of the hill. Another idea was to hold a bake sale during the Open House on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

$119 was raised during the Hat Day and $139 at the bake sale.

Last week some of the students talked about why they got involved.

Jackson said the students focused on the people who had lost their homes, most of their personal belongings and the firefighter who lost his life.


“It struck me. Made me realize I had to do something to help,” he said. “One of the main reasons I decided to help is I knew people who knew people affected by the explosion.”

Julia Mercier thought about how she would feel.

“I wouldn’t want to lose my home and all my belongings, the memories from that house,” she said.

Twins Abigail and Brianna Burhoe’s great grandmother lives close to the explosion site.

“When I heard, I was scared for her. I immediately called to make sure she was okay,” Abigail said. “People can’t replace pictures, pets they may have lost. They can’t get them back.”

Brianna added, “I can empathize with those who lost someone. It made me want to help them out.


“Even though my great grandmother wasn’t affected, she was still scared by it. I felt bad for the people it did happen to. They really need help.”

Peyton Reichenbach said her grandmother works in place like LEAP.

“Something like this happened when we lived in Florida and I didn’t really do anything about it. This was like a second chance for me to help out the community.”

Faith Maurais said it’s really important when something like this happens for people to help, to have someone there to comfort them.

“It takes a lot of strength and effort to come back when something bad happens,” she said. “It really helps when a group of people are there to help out. It’s important for us to come together as a community, to help other people.

“We wanted to show these people we know this happened


Mary Hamblin said, “I thought about what people had lost. If I did a little bit, it would help out.”

Arianna Donahue said, “I can’t imagine what it would be like if it was us instead of the people in Farmington, how it would be to lose everything.”

Jackson said this is what community is for, to help those in need, to come together and help each other.

Maurais noted the contrast between students sitting peacefully in a classroom and what was happening almost next door.

Brenden Vielleux said, “It didn’t hit us at first. It could have been a car backfiring in the parking lot, ambulances just coming to make sure. To think that you felt it from a good ten miles away. Who knows what it was like for those one mile or 100 yards away.”

“We may have only raised a couple hundred dollars through this project. If everybody did that the community could have an enormous effect on what’s happened.”


Jackson said, “The amount we raised while not a lot, it really is a lot.”

Students said $300 could buy a family’s groceries for a week or a couple nights stay at  hotel.

“If we did something once a week every week, how much money we could have raised for what happened,” Reichenbach said.

Maurais thanked everyone that helped.

“Even at a young age, even if not directly connected, you need to help out,” she said.





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