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Maine Community Foundation raises $1.8M for Lewiston shooting victims, families

A memorial for the victims of the Lewiston mass shooting outside Schmengees Bar and Grill on Nov. 16, 2023.
Susan Sharon
/
Maine Public
A memorial for the victims of the Lewiston mass shooting outside Schmengees Bar and Grill on Nov. 16, 2023.

The Maine Community Foundation has so far raised $1.8 million dollars in response to the worst mass shooting in Maine history. All of the money is being gifted to victims and their families and to the greater Lewiston-Auburn community. As Susan Sharon reports, exactly who is eligible and how the money gets dispersed will be decided by a local steering committee.

Created just 36-hours after the Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston. the Lewiston-Auburn Area Response Fund has been receiving thousands of individual donations from Maine and around the world. Deborah Ellwood is president and CEO of the Maine Community Foundation which is spearheading the effort.

"We cannot lose sight of what we can all do to help in the weeks and months and years ahead. This will be a long recovery and it will take many of us to support the community," Ellwood said.

A local steering committee made up of community leaders and volunteers will determine a process for eligibility and distribution of the funds. Victims, including those who were present but not physically injured at the bowling alley and the bar, are encouraged to apply. So are relatives of the victims. Jeffrey Dion, a nationally recognized victims' advocate will help guide the process as he's done for 30 communities after similar events around the country.

"This is not about - does anybody deserve this? Or does anybody need this. We just want to make sure we have the right people," Dion said.

Law enforcement have identified 150 people who could be eligible to apply. A town hall meeting to explain the process and answer questions will be held next month in Lewiston.