Throughout the years Gary Dolloff of Rumford has been involved in giving and helping his community in many ways. Just this past winter he and other like-minded community members held a Pay it Forward campaign to help families in need receive heating oil, groceries and even money to have car repairs done so that the person could get back and forth to work.

Gary Dolloff of Rumford. Submitted photo.

Currently, with the coronavirus affecting everyone by keeping us all at home, Dolloff has created some fun challenges for his River Valley community by asking them to be creative and post photos of themselves on his Facebook page dressing up at home for their own version of a fancy restaurant meal or by creating an American flag out of materials found at home, or even playing a game of “quarantine poker,” trusting everyone to “not swap cards.” Several local businesses have also become involved in Dolloff’s Facebook challenges by donating prizes for the winners.

Name: Gary Dolloff

Age: 54

Hometown: Rumford

Occupation: Manager of the Greater Rumford Community Center and also a football coach at Mountain Valley Middle School and a wrestling and softball coach at Mountain Valley High School.

How did you first come up with the idea to hold your online community challenges and where do you get your ideas?Well, the first contest was making the best snowman, since we had a big snowstorm that day in March. I decided that the first three top winners would get a prize from Frosty Delight ice cream shop (in Mexico). I thought that I would buy the gift certificates myself from the owner, Bob Bohren. Well, a while later that day I got a message from Bob and he said he wanted to sponsor the challenge. I thought, wow, awesome, that’s cool.

My thought (about creating the challenges) was just to give people something to do so that they would not be so bored and so that they’d have something fun to do and be creative. My ideas mostly come from myself but I have had a couple of people send me ideas, like the owners of the Hotel Rumford came up with the idea to have people dress up like Paul Bunyan and share their photos for the contest, which they sponsored. And DGD Trucking sponsored and came up with the idea for the quarantine poker run.

Describe a few challenges you’ve done so far and how community members met the challenges. Any really funny or surprising responses? We have done 17 sponsored challenges so far. One challenge was creating a fancy dinner and getting dressed up for it. The fancy dinner challenge was awesome; everyone dressed up and we had some pretty creative cooking ideas.

The Paul Bunyan challenge was amazing; we had such great look-a-likes, for sure. We also had the best inside fort and a crazy hair challenge where people had some really crazy hairdos.

We also did a World Book of Records challenge and we had a guy on a three-wheeler, Stacy Cunningham, who was trying to do as many spins as he could on the three-wheeler. He completed 22 spins and won that challenge as well as other challenges that he completed with his daughter Claire.

The Cunninghams are tied right now with two wins apiece with Tanner Henry, who won for best weird hair and best inside fort.

Another contest you’ve set up with sponsors is for the high school seniors of Mountain Valley High School and Dirigo High School. What did seniors need to do to participate in that contest? The high school seniors had to create a short video of themselves and speak about how this coronavirus has truly affected them and about what they have learned from this pandemic experience. We also asked them what they will take away from this experience that will help them in the future. The winner of the contest got $300 cash with a second prize win of $200 and a third prize of $100. (This contest was sponsored by Brookfield Renewable and Gatch’s restaurant in Rumford.)

You mention on your Facebook page that local area businesses have sought you out to sponsor the challenges. Why do you think they wanted to be involved and what kinds of prizes have some donated? I think businesses got involved to get their name out there and to help their community. It is a win-win situation for both sides. I have not reached out to any businesses for sponsorship (except for Frosty Delight in the beginning) they have all reached out to be part of this to help the community and get their name out there by doing something positive.

Some of the prizes have been cash, some prizes are gift cards and one was a fabricated flag from Concord River Fabrication and Home Goods, worth $190 dollars. The challenge for that prize was to create your own flag from what you have at home.

You’ve also been delivering homemade meals to the elderly and those who can’t get out. Who’s been making the meals and what’s the reaction been on the receiving end of the meals? My friend Veronica Dunlay Child has made some meals and my girlfriend Tammy Robbins has made some meals and has helped me deliver them. We all see a need for meals for people who are not getting out and we all want to try and help people who need a hand. The people getting the meals are so appreciative about the meals and they always have kind words for us.

You’re also one of many RSU 10 employees and volunteers who are helping to deliver meals to students and their families while they are home from school because of the coronavirus pandemic. Are there many people taking advantage of those food services and how is that going? Yes, I have been volunteering for the school to deliver meals to students. What a great program. I am so glad to be part of this and seeing so many amazing people and chatting with the kids. It is awesome.

We deliver about 180 meals a day from our van and there are four other vehicles each day, so thousands of meals a week are being delivered. The RSU 10 Nutrition staff is led by Food Nutrition Director Jeanne LaPointe and they’re doing amazing things. Every week the number of meals we’re giving out climbs. It’s a great program.


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