Church raises thousands for heating fuel fund

ELLSWORTH — St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church took its annual holiday marketplace online during the pandemic and in the process raised $6,500 to help keep local homes warm.

The market sold everything from placemats, baby clothes and baskets to bakery items such as pies, fudge and breads. Proceeds from the 2020 virtual market exceeded the funds raised from all prior years. The money was donated to the THAW Fund, which is managed by Downeast Community Partners and provides heat and energy assistance based on need, not income. 

The church operates under the motto “To love. To pray. To serve.” 

“This year, because of COVID, we realized we could not meet in person,” said Carol Mason, chairwoman of the Holiday Fair Fundraiser Committee. “It was decided that the event had to be shifted to a virtual marketplace on the church’s website.” 

St. Dunstan’s Holiday Fair Fundraiser Committee is composed of several bakers. The bakers, including home cooks and one professional, connected through baking. Community members ordered bakery items saving their oven for the turkey. 

“The committee members get tremendous satisfaction out of baking when it means doing something for someone else,” Mason said. “When you are buying a pie, or a loaf of bread and the money goes to help someone who is in need, everyone feels good about it.”

Local crafter Liz Tracy, who turns 80 years old this month, creates handcrafted items throughout the year and donates the proceeds to the market. This year, Liz handcrafted over 150 items that were sold through the holiday market, raising $1,500. 

When asked why she donates so much of her time and resources, Tracy said, “To me it is payback; people helped me growing up. I didn’t have a lot; this is my way of giving back to the community.” In her earlier years, Liz would make a dozen items to sell; as her children grew up, she was able to spend more time and resources on crafting. She sews tree skirts, baby clothes and other items. 

To learn more about THAW, visit If you are in need of heating assistance, call 664-2424 Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.