Community Celebration–You’re Invited!

For many years, May has been the month we recognize and celebrate at least one Community Citizen of the Year. Last year we set a new record by giving the award to the many school employees throughout the area. Well, we’re going to break that record this year. We’re considering everyone a Community Citizen of the Year in honor of the spirit that held our communities together for the past two years!

While it won’t be practical to award individual certificates, we will recognize friends and neighbors with a free community supper. And we’re relying on the great Grange tradition by serving up a Grange Bean Supper!

Supper will be served from 5:30 — 7:00 or until the food runs out, so come early. Our upstairs hall will be turned into a social center and game room so you can visit with your neighbors, play a game, build a puzzle… have some good old-fashioned fun! This is a celebration of community–a gathering of friends, neighbors and strangers., (You won’t be a stranger for long!) All are welcome! We have a Busy Box and Book Bin for kids! If you have a favorite board game, bring that along and challenge others.

If you’d like to help with the supper, call Mary at 564-0820 or Janice at 343-1842. If you’d like to help us spread the word, download and print this flyer/invitation. Give it friends, post it where you can!

Blanketeers Needed!

Valley Grange of Guilford is sponsoring a blanket-making event on Saturday, May 14, 2022,  from 9:00 a.m. until noon and volunteers are needed! Organizer Pat Engstrom notes “no sewing skills are needed. If you can measure, cut a straight line with scissors and tie a simple knot you can become a ‘blanketeer’ and help support Project Linus.”

Project Linus, a non-profit organization, provides homemade blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. Similar events in the past have resulted in dozens of blankets being made by a diverse group of volunteers. Engstrom hopes to see the number of blankets made increase.

“We have a great time doing this and truly just about anyone can help. We created quite a production line and it sometimes gets competitive! It’s exciting to realize we’re providing love in the form of ‘blankies’ representing love, security, warmth, and comfort to kids.”

Light refreshments will be served.

We Came, We Saw…

Our February Meeting included a number of guests, some great food, good conversation and a good time! We were especially pleased to “obligate” our newest members, Sarah Mahan and Nick Jackson. Some of us got to try lamb for the first time, thanks to their potluck contribution and most of us went home with some eggs! For those of you who didn’t come and haven’t seen it, you must watch this video. Not only will you get to meet the family, but you’ll also find their regeneration techniques fascinating.

In other news, we approved the new Hall Use Agreement. A copy will be uploaded to the website soon. We also began discussing Grange Month (we celebrate in May) and Community Citizen of the Year. If you now someone in the area who deserves recognition for their service to our communities, contact Mary Annis or Walter Boomsma. We’re looking for an unsung hero.

We received socks and have more on the way. Thanks to Helping Hearts Ministry in West Virginia for their generous donation! We’ll likely be making our final delivery for this year next week… if you intend to “Sock it to us,” please do so soon!

Thanks also to Phyllis Lyford from the Dover Foxcroft Historical Society for her donation of two patriotic lap afghans for the Operation Gratitude Hospice Project for Veterans.

We started to get writer’s cramp signing thank-you cards and notes. We’ve been so fortunate this winter to members of our communities who have helped us keep our hall open. I’m afraid I’ll forget someone, but thanks to Brian and Cindy Woodworth, Jimmy French, John McKusick… the anonymous donor who left socks in the tote on the porch… with all this help, we were able to come to the February meeting, see the fruits of our labor and have a certain sense that we conquered winter.

Our new Busy Box was put to good use! As a reminder, we are still looking for puzzles, games, etc. suitable for kids. I recently was able to replenish our Book Bin after a visit to the Abbot Liberry. Now that we have kids attending, we welcome any contributions to both! If you can’t come to a meeting, you can leave them in the tote on the front porch.

I stopped at the hardware store on the way to the hall to start the furnace. One of the clerks asked if he could ask a question. “Are you the guy who does that bookworm club thing?” I was able to explain that COVID has our Bookworm Program on hold, but yes, Valley Grange has bookworms who listen to the kids read at school. He complimented the program and said how great it was. (Little does he know that he’s on my list of potential volunteers when we get started again!)

These questions and the support we receive help us remain committed “…to labor for the good of our Order, our country, and mankind.” Thank you!

And if you want to experience the warmth and welcome of the Grange, our next meeting is Friday, March 18, 2022. Potluck is at 6 pm–bring a dish to share if you can. Our meeting and program start at 7 pm and we are usually finished by 8:30 pm. Come as you are and bring a friend! Remember, we are kid-friendly!

Check Us Out on WABI-TV5!

Valley Grange Socks It to ’em!

“We stopped counting,” Community Service Chair Mary Annis said. “Thanks to members and friends, we were able to fill five bags with socks for our local kids. We used almost half of the dining hall to spread things out to sort!

Those bags are now being delivered to local schools (Piscataquis Community, SeDoMoCha, Brownville, Ridgeview, and Harmony Elementary) for distribution to kids who need them during what is undoubtedly some of the most bitterly cold weather. Windchill factors are taking local temperatures to as much as forty below zero. “Our volunteer deliverers are bundling up and wearing their own warm socks,” commented Walter Boomsma, Program Director, who is being assisted by Janice Boomsma and Pat Engstrom.

“We could call this ‘Operation Warm Toes,'” quipped Boomsma. “From the reception we’re getting while delivering, it’s safe to assume that this cannot be limited to a one-time effort. We’ve still got plenty of winter weather left and lots of little toes, so we’ll be asking for community support again.”

There are several ways to donate. Online shoppers can have an order drop-shipped to Walter Boomsma, 17 River Road, Abbot ME 04406. If you know a member of Valley Grange, contact them and arrange for a drop-off or pick-up. Valley Grange will be meeting on Friday, January 21, 2022–join us for potluck supper at 6 pm and “sock it to us.” There’s also a collection tote on the porch of the Grange Hall located at 172 Guilford Center Road in Guilford. “Just be careful,” Boomsma warns. “this time of year the steps aren’t always cleared off between meetings and events.”

Kids’ sizes and adults’ sizes are needed. Boys, girls, unisex… warm socks are best, obviously. The socks collected will be distributed to school nurses where there is a need. Thanks for helping us help the kids!

If your business or organization wants to serve as a collection point, contact Walter Boomsma at 207 343-1842 or Mary Annis at 207 564-0820. “We’d like to make our next delivery soon, probably early in February,” Annis said. We need to act fast! Thanks for helping us help the kids!”

Valley Grange Gram–keeping things busy!

Breakfast for supper was yummy! Since this was a combined meeting with Piscataquis Pomona, we didn’t do much business, but we learned a great deal from Pomona Lecturer Dave Pearson’s program. I became so entranced I failed to take good notes, but I do recall that his questionable research was based in part on cave paintings that tell us the first socks were invented in 1851 BC by a Mr. Zok (rhymes with “sock”), who wore the pelts of saber tooth rabbits (fur side out) on his feet…

One might say that Dave “socked it to us” in an enjoyable and informative way.

Who is checking out some of the socks we’ve received?

But it all fits. We sorted through an estimated three hundred pairs of socks we’ve received so far, starting bags for each of the five schools we’ll be supplying. We continue to collect! If you’d like to sock it to us:

  1. Drop them off at the Grange Hall—there’s a tote on the front porch that gets emptied regularly.
  2. Order online and have them shipped to Walter Boomsma @ 17 River Road, Abbot ME 04406
  3. Contact Walter or Community Service Chair Mary to arrange a meet-up.

Our goal is to make a delivery to the schools around December 16th, but we’ll continue to collect in anticipation of further deliveries in January or February. We’re also rebuilding our hat and mitten inventory, so keep those kneedles knitting!

We could, of course, come full circle by noting that in addition to sorting socks, our yarn, hats, and mittens bins were sorted… it sorta fits with the yarn that Dave spun regarding socks.

We’ve sorta learned that Valley Grange placed fourth in the Maine State Grange Community Service Contest. (It’s a long story.) Thanks to Mary Annis for her work, especially in putting together our entry notebook. We “earned” $50!

FYI, (bookworms, especially) PCES is planning to hold two Holiday Concerts—outside! The first will feature K-3 on Wednesday, December 8th at 5:30 pm. Park at the high school and walk up to the area in front of the school. Dress warm! The second concert will feature grades 4 -6 on Thursday, December 14th, also at 5:30 pm. Follow the same procedure! Support our kids!

Pat and Janice had a successful Kris Kringle Kraft Fair… we appreciate their time and efforts, and willingness to share the proceeds with Valley Grange! Pat has also succeeded in getting a donation of fleece to be used in our next “Blanketeering” day for Project Linus. Thanks also to Linda Kain of Abbot for her recent donation of blankets and “lovies” for the Linus Project.

CWA co-chairs Judy and Pat conducted a drawing and increased the CWA fund to (ka-ching!) $22.00. A special thanks to Pat for contributing the two quarters to make it an even amount!

Thanks also to McKusick Petroleum… our downstairs thermostat was replaced at no charge and the furnace is working without complication. If you are a “Grange Bee” during the winter, please make certain you shut things down correctly and add some antifreeze. Instructions with photos are on the side of the furnace.

Dues are due! You should have received a bill from Mary… did you get a check to her?! Unpaid dues, by Grange Rule, result in us issuing a “demit,” which effectively changes your status to inactive. In addition to following the rules, we cannot afford to carry you as an unpaid member. Thanks for taking care of this!

It’s also time to update your contact information… do we have your correct address, phone number(s), email address(es)? If you’re not sure, you can reply to this email with the information or contact Mary Annis.

You certainly don’t want to miss anything that’s going on in, near, around Valley Grange!

Valley Grange Delivers!

And we had company! Reporters from WABI TV 5 and WVII Fox Bangor asked if they could “tag along” when we delivered dictionaries to Brownville Elementary School and we were happy to have the company!

Valley Grange Master/President Jim Annis and Program Director Walter Boomsma had the back of his car filled with “words”–cases of dictionaries to deliver to several area schools. Annis admitted, “Sometimes we’re not sure who gets more excited, us or the kids.”

Boomsma noted that he misses the contact with the kids. “In the past we’ve had several schools make field trips to the Grange Hall and we’ve visited classrooms to hand out the dictionaries personally while explaining a little about the Grange and trying to get the kids really excited about having their own dictionary. Since safety is a priority as a result of COVID, we’ve had to get a little creative.”

The Guilford Grange produced a short video and some resources for teachers who are now doing the actual presentations. But the curious kids in Brownville were watching out the window at, what for Brownville was a “media extravaganza.” It wasn’t long before a window was opened and some chatting took place “long distance.”

Boomsma noted that the day’s delivery included a bag of knitted hats and mittens, compliments of Valley Grange’s Blistered Finger Knitters. “We have one woman in New Jersey who knits for us throughout the year and brings her work when she visits in the summer.”

A relatively new program started by the Grange asks people to “Sock It to Me.” Boomsma warned Principal Carol Smith “We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a bag of socks. We want add feet to our efforts to keep our kids warm this winter, so we’re asking people to help us out with donations of socks we can provide to area schools.”

The stockings were piled at the Grange Hall with care
In hopes children’s feet would be saved from cold air!

If you’re interested in a Dictionary Project in your area or at your school, contact Mr. Boomsma or visit the Dictionary Project Website. To learn more about the Valley Grange Program, visit the Valley Grange Website.

Somebody Socked It to Us!

Why is FedEx bringing a package? We aren’t expecting anything… Once it arrived, we discovered we have another anonymous Grange Angel. (We have our suspicions!) As the photo shows, inside the box from Target were a number of packs of socks—a generous and nice start to our “Sock It to Me” Collection.

If our math is correct, we have an 80 pair start! We haven’t set a goal but are now starting to wonder how many pairs we might end up with.

We plan to continue collecting through December. There’s a plastic tote on the porch of the Grange Hall where you can “sock it to us.” Better yet bring them to our Breakfast for Supper on December 3, 2021. (Don’t forget to RSVP.) If you want to “drop ship, ship to Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange, 17 River Road, Abbot ME 04406.

We need kids’ sizes and adults’ sizes. Boys, girls, unisex… warm socks are best, obviously but we’re not going to be choosey. We’ll be distributing the socks collected to school nurses where there is a need, either in late December or early January. Thanks for helping us help the kids!

The stockings were piled at the Grange Hall with care
In hopes children’s feet would be saved from cold air!

Sock It to Me! Sock It to Me!

At the November Valley Grange Meeting–at every meeting–we always discuss emerging and existing needs in our communities. One brought to our attention was that several schools in our area have expressed a need for socks! There are too many kids coming to school “sockless” and it’s not a fashion statement. So we’re starting a “sock drive” with the socks collected being distributed to school nurses where there is a need.

We need kids’ sizes and adults’ sizes. Boys, girls, unisex… warm socks are best, obviously but we’re not going to be choosey.

Grange members voted unanimously to make our Breakfast for Supper Program a key sock collection point and date. “We usually collect food cupboard donations at this meeting,” Community Service Chair Mary Annis noted,” so this year we’re adding socks. We’ll have a tote on the front porch of the Grange Hall. For those who can’t come to breakfast, swing by the Grange Hall and sock it to us by leaving some socks in the tote.”

“Since this is sorta last minute,” Program Director Walter Boomsma noted, “We’ll probably continue to collect throughout the month of December. Any and all help will be appreciated! We may try to set up some collection points around the area… if a business or organization is interested in helping with that, call me at 207 343-1842.”

The stockings were piled at the Grange Hall with care
In hopes children's feet would be saved from cold air!
Photo by Pixabay

Dictionary Day 2021 Has Arrived!

A team of Valley Granger members led by Walter Boomsma is delivering over 200 dictionaries to local area schools during the next two weeks. “We have a lot to celebrate,” he noted, “in spite of COVID restrictions, third graders in the area will have a Dictionary Day that focuses on tools, words, and the importance of learning.”

The Grange began its “Words for Thirds” Program in 2004 by giving a dictionary to every third-grader at the then Guilford Primary School. Over the years, the program has expanded to include Piscataquis Community, SeDoMoCha, Brownville, Harmony, and Ridgeview Elementary Schools. Boomsma estimates the Grange has distributed nearly 3,000 dictionaries since. “But it’s really not about the numbers. One kid, one dictionary. The stories are many but each one is personal. A dictionary can make a big difference in a child’s life.”

Since in-person visits are not possible due to safety concerns, the Grange has produced a short video for teachers to use while passing out the dictionaries. In the past, some schools have made field trips to the Grange Hall and Grangers have visited schools to make the gift personal and emphasize the importance of people helping each other. Jim Annis, president of the local Grange, rarely misses a presentation. “I love how excited the kids get. These dictionaries are truly empowering and the program has become a rite of passage. It takes some creativity, but we’re glad we can continue the tradition.”

Boomsma noted that these sorts of links and cooperation within the community are exactly what the Grange hopes to facilitate.  “We’re all about Community Service,” he said. “We’re also looking for people who share that passion whether it’s working with the schools and children or seniors or other community organizations.” He cites the Grange’s Blistered Finger Knitters as an example. “As a result of their efforts, we’ll be distributing some knitted hats and mittens along with the dictionaries. These are usually given to the school nurse for kids who need a little help staying warm.”

Our goal as a Grange is to support building strong communities. We offer a number of opportunities for folks to join us. Financial support is always needed and welcomed. Contributions can be sent to Valley Grange Secretary and Community Service Director at 28 Orchard Road, Dover Foxcroft ME 04426. We also need hands! In addition to mittens and hats for kids, we support the CHCS Hospice Program for veterans by providing lap quilts and afghans. There are always little jobs to be done around the hall. We are updating our project and program list but can say with confidence, we have a way that you can help based on your interest and time.

Come to a meeting or contact a Granger! Share our American values and help feed our hometown roots!