To the Editor:

We want to thank the Bethel community for the ongoing support of the Maine Valentine’s Day Project. The MVP, now in its 7th year, began through a simple idea of spreading love and compassion for those who may be forgotten, overlooked, and often struggle daily without basic needs such as warm clothes, housing, and loneliness.

Maine’s homeless population is greater than many are fully aware of, and a simple gesture of kindness, love, and giving on Valentine’s Day is a way of letting people know that they are not forgotten and that they are loved and thought of by others.

MVP started as a small project; warm hats, socks, gloves, and a few treats, complete with a simple Valentine card were collected, packaged up in a large ziplock bag, and delivered to homeless people on the streets of Portland, Lewiston, and a few other communities.

These were delivered individually by driving throughout the city and seeking folks in need, and we scheduled several larger handout spots such as the Preble St. shelter, Trinity House, and others.

Efforts began long before Valentine’s Day to coordinate with staff on what was needed and the best times to deliver, and from this humble start, the program grew. We started adding filled backpacks for the homeless veteran population.


These included outdoor clothing, toiletries, treats, and more. These were delivered to volunteers from the Maine Veterans Alliance and they would deliver directly to known homeless encampments of veterans. We began to add collection boxes at various businesses in town and received donations of warm winter gear, blankets, hand-made hats, scarves, treats, and cards made by Crescent Park and Woodstock Elementary students.

There are far too many people to list who have contributed items, funds, and assistance, without the fear of leaving anyone out. This effort has always been about community support and we couldn’t do this without them!

Each year, we have refined our approach based on the needs and guidance of the many shelters with which we coordinate. The preparation and staging of items to be packaged before we deliver has always been a challenge, and this year the Bethel Historical Society very generously donated a space with shelving and area to pack things up for our temporary use.

This has made a huge difference, and we really appreciate the use of this space! As we get closer to Valentine’s Day, we have scheduled visits to both elementary schools to talk about the project, and we read several stories to the students about giving to others. The students continue to make hundreds of Valentine’s cards to include, which make a special addition to the packages.

If you would like to learn more about the Maine Valentine Project, you can find our Facebook page at MVP – Maine Valentine Project – and follow along. To donate, please reach out to us. Also, on February 10 from 11-2, the Bethel Historical Society will be having a special Valentine’s Celebration to make handmade valentines at the Robinson house, 10 Broad Street in Bethel. Be sure to stop on by.

Thank you so much.

Deirdre Fournier 

Willow Ochtera

Mason Township

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