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!

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

Wear Your Jammies!

Please join us! Breakfast for Supper starts at 6 PM… it’s not exactly a potluck but we’ll appreciate help with the food. Just letting us know you’re coming will help with planning–use the form below. If you have a special breakfast casserole or dish to share, great! If you’d like to help with the menu, contact Mary Annis (564-0820) or Janice Boomsma.(876-4131). This is family-friendly and kids are welcome!

A Potpourri of Pleasant Particulars

Craft Fairs

Members Pat Engstrom and Janice Boomsma are going to be at two craft fairs—and we’re promoting them because Valley Grange benefits because they share the proceeds with us! Visit them at:

  1. The Craft Fair at the Dover Foxcroft Fairground Dining Hall on November 20, from 9 am until 2 pm.
  2. The Kris Kringle Market at the Monson Community Center (former elementary school) from 9 am until 3 pm.

Shop ‘til you drop! You’ll be supporting local craftspeople and Valley Grange!

November Meeting

Our November meeting is Friday, November 19th with a potluck supper at 6 pm and a meeting at 7 pm. Please plan on attending—we’ll have a few items of business to discuss, including our hall use policy and agreement.

Christmas Breakfast

Don’t forget that our December Meeting will be special: A fellowship breakfast for supper on Friday, December 3rd. Breakfast starts at 6 pm—it’s not exactly a potluck but we appreciate help with the food! If you have a special breakfast casserole or dish to share, great! If you’d like to help with the menu, please contact Mary Annis (564-0820) or Janice Boomsma (876-4131). The Piscataquis Pomona is moving their meeting to this night so they can join us… and of course, the public is invited. Pomona Lecturer Dave Pearson from Wayside Grange and I will be sharing the program starting at 7 pm. Come in your jammies if you’d like!

Dictionary Days

We’re scheduling and delivering over the next two weeks. Coming soon to a school near you!

Busy Grangers and Grange Friends Visited by Grange Angel

In our last Valley Grange Gram, we noted that folks should “not clip their fingernails” before our October Meeting because we would be peeling and sticking labels into over two hundred dictionaries and sorting and preparing knitted hats and mittens for distributions to local schools. Well, an anonymous “Grange Angel” snuck into our hall and had everything finished for us! A handwritten note proclaimed, “glad to help in some small way.”

We do have our suspicions regarding the identity of our angel, but we’ll protect her identity and simply say, “Thank you!”

Anyway, as a result we were able to bag up hats and mittens and are now ready to begin scheduling “Dictionary Days” around the area. For those unfamiliar, on Dictionary Day Valley Grange provides third grade students with their own personal dictionary at Piscataquis Community Elementary School, in Guilford SeDoMoCha Elementary in Dover Foxcroft, Harmony Elementary, Brownville Elementary, and Ridgeview Elementary in Dexter. Thanks to our Blistered Finger Knitters we also provide a bag of mittens and hats–usually entrusted to the school nurse– for use with students in need.

Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange Program Director, noted that distribution “may be a little different this year.” Historically Grangers have made person visits to schools and, in some cases, third graders have made field trips to visit to the Grange Hall on Guilford Center Road. “We’re still working with the schools on some ideas,” he noted. “At a minimum, we’ll provide a prerecorded video explaining how we hope the kids will use their dictionaries. We’ll also explore the idea of a ‘virtual’ classroom visit.”

Folks in the area who might like to become an angel have a number of opportunities that don’t necessarily involve sneaking into the Grange Hall, according to Mary Annis, Community Service Director. “We definitely can use more knitters… this is not a one time need–we often get requests for more mittens and hats as the winter lingers on. Yarn donations are also helpful and we can often supply yarn to our knitters.”

Prospective Community Angels can get their wings by contacting any member of Valley Grange or attending a meeting. “COVID has changed some things but it is not going to stop us,” Boomsma noted. “We are always looking for opportunities to serve and strengthen our communities. And that means we are always looking for like-minded folks of all ages. Let’s fly together!

For information about future projects and meetings, visit the Valley Grange Website at http://valleygrange.com or their Facebook Page.