The Star-Herald

Volunteers collect items for at-risk groups in donation drive

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — On Saturday, Democratic Maine House candidate Lillie Lavado and volunteers collected kitchenware, cleaning supplies and bedding for survivors of domestic violence and youth aging out of the foster care system in a donation drive held at Veterans Memorial Park in Presque Isle.

Lavado, who is running against Republican candidate Joseph Underwood for a Presque Isle-based seat in the Maine House, planned to give the items to various organizations, including the Hope and Justice Project, Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Micmac Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocacy Center.

She said she organized the drive to raise awareness of the plight of domestic violence victims and at-risk youth — one only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic — and highlight how community action can alleviate social problems. October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Lavado — who has long participated in community organizing in the Presque Isle area — has revved up campaigning across the city in anticipation of the election on Nov. 3, knocking on doors and meeting with local leaders. Her candidacy has also been promoted in several ads on social media. 

Judy Boudman, former owner of the recently closed Cafe Sorpreso, gave numerous kitchen items, including dishes, plates, bowls, mugs and glassware. Other donated items include linens, cleaning supplies, blankets, towels, lamps, vases and picture frames. 

Lavado said that even items that may seem non-essential are important for those getting back on their feet. 

“[These items are] all those little things that you need but don’t have when you are getting established,” Lavado said. 

Lavado said she would continue to collect donations until she delivered items at midweek.

In a Facebook post in September, Lavado wrote about being a victim of domestic violence, highlighting the psychological and economic damage experienced by victims even after they  leave abusive situations.

The donation drive had initially been scheduled for Oct. 17 but was canceled because of rain. Saturday’s event was slated to go until 1 p.m. but also ended early due to showers.

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