Jobs for Maine Graduates students help fill local cupboards

CARIBOU, Maine – The Caribou High School Jobs for Maine Graduates students held a monthlong food collection drive in their classroom to benefit patients, their families and community members throughout Pines Health Services service areas at their various health centers located in Northern Aroostook County.

The students collected more than 6,000 items of non-perishable food to donate to those in need.

“Geographically speaking, our health centers are located throughout five different communities. This allowed us to collect the food from the students, then disburse to our health centers in the St. John Valley, Presque Isle and Caribou areas,” said Casey Bouchard, communications and community relations representative for Pines and Cary Medical Center.

“We are currently working with our care coordination team, who have complied a list of our patients who have a food insecurity. Due to the vast amount of food that was collected by Dr. Valerie Ann Waldemarson, JMG specialist, and her students, we will be making such a positive impact in the lives of many families.

“Furthermore, the distribution of the items will reach the homes of several communities, not just one targeted area,” said Bouchard.

Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine and the Portland-based nonprofit organization Preble Street conducted research in 2017 which found that Aroostook’s rate of food insecurity was 17.1 percent, topped only by Washington County at 17.2 percent.
“I am not sure I can express in words what it means to be a part of this partnership with Pines Health Services and Cary Medical Center. Seeing all of the students get involved in this collection to help JMG combat food insecurity has left me feeling an overwhelming since of pride,” said Waldemarson.

“It’s important to maintain partnerships like we have with Pines and Cary to truly grow as a community and foster positive change,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling knowing that Pines and Cary will deliver these non-perishable food items to the people that need it the most.”

JMG partners with Maine’s public middle and high schools, community colleges, and the university system to help students reach their fullest potential, serving more than 9,000 students in Maine’s 16 counties.  

“It was overwhelming to see all of the donations come in and to know that so many people do care about others. It really was heartwarming,” noted Caragan Haney, senior and JMG student at Caribou High School.

“Working with young children almost every day, I see that there are families that cannot afford three meals a day so they struggle during vacations and even for snacks for their children during the day. I’m so happy to be a part of this partnership and to have the support of Pines and Cary.

“I wish I could personally thank every person that donated and let them know the impact they are making in people’s lives. Thank you, everyone, for all of your donations, Caribou JMG is truly thankful,” said Haney.

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