Win-win: Eat clams, help needy

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FREEPORT – Local residents can help the less fortunate this holiday season in a most delicious way – by eating steamed clams.

On Saturday, Dec. 1 from 4-7 p.m. at the Freeport Masonic Lodge on Mallett Drive, the Maine Clammers Association, which is based in Freeport, will hold its third-annual steamed clam supper, featuring locally dug clams along with other foods and desserts, with all money raised going to benefit the association’s 2012 Santa Fund.

Chad Coffin, the president of the Maine Clammers Association, said the reason behind the dinner is twofold.

“We raise a bit of money and we get people together to eat the finest seafood in the world,” he said. “This is our biggest (fundraiser).”

Coffin said the association uses the money raised at the dinner to assist people who need help, “kids, families who fall through the cracks,” he said. “We buy Christmas presents, we help people with cash donations.”

He added that the association will also use some of the money to help people buy heating oil or propane this winter.

While the association does help some people locally, Coffin said the bulk of the money is spent helping out families in the midcoast and Down East regions of the state.

“We encounter some pretty severe cases of poverty there,” he said. “We just try and help out as many people as we can.”

Coffin said the association brought special holiday presents for more than 50 kids last year, and he is hoping to help a similar number this year. He said that the clammers focus their attention on the midcoast and Down East regions because there are fewer opportunities for families to seek help in those parts of the state.

“When you get Down East, the resources get so slim,” he said.

The menu for the dinner on Dec. 1 is led off by, no surprise, steamed clams, which Coffin said will be locally dug “premium mud clams” right from Freeport. But for the non-seafood eaters, there will be plenty on the menu, including spaghetti, breads and desserts – “all kinds of different foods,” Coffin said.

The cost is $15 per person and kids 12 and under are free. There is a special rate of $10 for seniors 65 and older from 4-5 p.m. and everyone who attends is asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to be given to a child who might not otherwise receive anything this holiday season.