July 02, 2020

Eastern Mainers’ generosity makes holidays bright

Today’s column is the last of 2000, and I’ve chosen to tell the story of three people I believe exemplify the generous, giving nature of the residents of eastern Maine.

Meet 86-year-old Doris Landman who lives at Nason Park in Bangor.

The mother of two, grandmother of four and great-grandmother of 10, she spends her days doing what comes naturally: helping others the best way she can. It’s her way of giving back what has been given her.

She specifically wants to express her gratitude for the help and assistance she has received from Eastern Agency on Aging.

The agency supplies her with, among other things, access to Lifeline and, when she needed help after experiencing heat stroke, someone to assist her in her home.

“They help me, so I do what I do to help them,” Landman said.

Landman’s major project this holiday season was to crochet 10 lap robes for the agency to distribute as needed.

Landman worked as a licensed practical nurse for many years, and in that work, she noticed that lap robes provided nursing home patients and shut-ins were always too small.

“They just didn’t stay tucked in,” Landman said.

“When I was nursing, I was always picking up little ones off the floor, so I’ve made ones big enough so they can be tucked in.”

During the past three years, Landman has made 27 such robes for EAA and, this year, produced a collection of 10.

When someone once commented that the lap robes weren’t all the same size, Landman retorted, “well, people aren’t all the same size, are they?”

No two lap robes are alike, and that’s probably because Landman makes her own patterns since she can’t read patterns from a book.

Making lap robes isn’t all that keeps Landman busy, however.

About 3 a.m. every Monday through Saturday, she’s at the door to greet the Bangor Daily News Sunriser who delivers our newspaper to Nason Manor, and then she places them where they belong.

And if it happens that the agency’s Meals for Me delivery can’t be made on a particular day to two gentlemen who live on her floor, Landman is ready.

Born in Island Falls the oldest of 10, Landman still has trouble “cooking for one,” she said, so she’s “adopted” the gentlemen and, if need be, can readily supply them with a meal of hot dogs, beans and brown bread or, perhaps, salmon chowder.

What keeps Landman going? Her answer is simple.

“If you keep busy doing good things, you won’t get into trouble.”

Next, I’d like you to know Theresa Rakestraw of Bangor who, for the past 14 years, has been knitting hats and giving them away for the holidays.

“Each year, I try to knit 100 hats,” she said of the warm winter headgear that she makes in one-size-fits all.

This year The Salvation Army in Bangor received 50 hats, and Manna Ministries received the other 50. Other years, hats might go to a homeless shelter or another agency serving those in need.

Rakestraw used to make knitted winter hats and sell them, but “somewhere along the line, I stopped selling them and started giving them out at Christmas,” she said.

“It kind of feels good to give them away.”

And it helps set an example for the family’s younger children still at home, said the 55-year-old mother who, with “his, mine and ours” are parents to 11.

Rakestraw believes people are glad to get the hats, each of which is different. She likes the idea that people in need have something new under their Christmas tree each year.

And while Mom knits, the kids give, since her children deliver her hats to the local agencies.

All in all, it’s a gift the whole family gives and which they hope people will enjoy.

With the weather we’ve had lately, there is no doubt those hats are appreciated!

I last wrote about 11-year-old Andre Winters three years ago.

He was doing then what he is doing now: playing his trumpet to help others.

The talented son of Jim and Laura Winters of Orono has found a wonderfully entertaining way to help others at holiday time.

Laura Winters told us her son learned, just before Christmas, “that Manna was behind in the donations, and that they had a lot of families who needed gifts.”

So, once again, Andre sought, and received, permission to play his trumpet at the Bangor Mall to raise money for Manna Ministries, something he has done in the past.

“He raised a little over $2,200 in just three days,” his mother said.

The money helped Manna purchase gifts for the needy that were distributed during the Christmas Dinner it serves in cooperation with the Bangor Lodge of Elks Local 244.

That Andre raised so much money playing approximately 10 hours over a three-day period this year is remarkable.

But even more noteworthy is the fact that he has raised close to $6,000 for charity in the three years since he first started using his musical abilities to help others.

This year, Andre wanted to visit the Elks Club on Christmas Day to watch the people open their gifts. He noticed one man open his present and, seeing how much it meant to him, Andre turned to his mother and said, “I really helped people, didn’t I?”

“You sure did,” Laura Winters told her son. “And that’s all that matters.”

“We try to teach our children that helping others is what life is all about,” she told me.

Obviously, Andre has learned that lesson well.

I’ll be off for a few days, so I extend to you my best wishes for a very Happy New Year, and invite you to rejoin me on Page B4 on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2001.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402;


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