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Updated: October 30, 2023

'Thoughts, prayers and donations': Grieving and giving in aftermath of Lewiston shootings

Memorial Screenshot A memorial was held at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul for the 18 people who lost their lives in the Lewiston mass shootings. Sunday night’s vigil was live-streamed on multiple websites.
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As Maine grieves over last week's mass shootings in Lewiston, fundraising to assist victims' families and first responders is gathering pace.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Lewiston people are known for our strength and grit and we will need both in the days to come,” Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline said a Saturday LinkedIn post.

The deadliest shooting in Maine's history claimed 18 lives and left 13 injured, some critically. A manhunt for murder suspect Robert Card ended Friday night, when police found Card's body following an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

As survivors seek to piece their lives back together, organizations including the Maine Community Foundation are stepping up to raise funds while some victims' family members and friends turn to the GoFundMe crowdfunding platform to seek help with expenses.

"Mainers are ready to begin the healing process after the heartbreaking losses incurred in Lewiston on Oct. 25," Kathie Leonard, CEO of Auburn Manufacturing, said in a statement emailed to Mainebiz over the weekend.

"There's no better way to fuel that process than to donate through organizations like the Maine Community Foundation," she added. "Thoughts, prayers and donations are all needed for the people of Maine right now."

Maine Community Foundation

colorful lines and words
Courtesy / Maine Community Foundation
The Maine Community Foundation has established the Lewiston-Auburn Area Response Fund.

The Maine Community Foundation said it has established the Lewiston-Auburn Area Response Fund "to support victims of Maine's worst gun tragedy on record and the organizational efforts that will help heal the city."

Donations will be distributed with deep community guidance, including from Maine Community Foundation's statewide board, engagement by the organization's Androscoggin County Committee and community steering committee.

“We are heartbroken at this unspeakable violence, right here at home," said Adilah Muhammad, a Lewiston resident who chairs the Maine Community Foundation board. "The Maine Community Foundation is stepping up to help ensure that the community has the resources to respond to this terrible tragedy.”

Deborah Ellwood, the organization's president and CEO, added that "we must support each other and care for one another in this difficult time for our state.”

Donations can be made online or by mail to: Lewiston-Auburn Area Response Fund, Maine Community Foundation, 245 Main St., Ellsworth, ME 04605.

Central Maine Medical Center

Central Maine Medical Center, where 14 patients who initially survived the attack were transported and three were reported to be in critical condition Sunday night, has established a fund for trauma response and support services.

“Ultimately in any case of trauma, it is critical to make sure the right people with the right training and the right equipment are available at the right time,” said Dr. Richard King, the medical director for Central Maine Healthcare. “That was clearly apparent on Oct. 25. This fund will help ensure that our community has the very best trauma care available and the services to support it.”

Donations for the CMMC Compassionate Care Fund for Trauma Response and Support will be go toward trauma care for patient without the ability to pay; trauma care rooms and facilities including the emergency department, operating rooms and critical care units; emotional and behavioral support services for trauma care providers patients, families and communities; another other critical needs.

Donate to the CMMC Compassionate Care Fund for Trauma Response and Support here

'Healing Together' website

To help help channel the groundswell of state, regional and national support for victims, families and responders, Gov. Janet Mills has created a web portal called "Healing Together."

The site directs users to places accepting financial donations, along with mental health resources from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services for those in need.

“In the face of great tragedy and difficulty, it is a hallmark of Maine people to come together to love and support one another,” Mills said in Saturday's announcement. "To that end, I know many people right now are asking, ‘How can I help?’ I encourage Maine people to use and share our ‘Healing Together’ website as a resource to support the families of the victims and the greater Lewiston community as we begin the long and difficult process of healing.”

Feeding first responders 

Campaign logo
Courtesy of Maine credit unions
"Feed the First" is a campaign by Maine credit unions to get food to first responders helping in the shooting's aftermath.

In a show of support for first responders helping get food to community members affected by the tragedy, the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger is directing some of its funds to the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The campaign is organized by the Maine Credit Union League.

Funds raised through the “Feed the First” initiative will be used to feed first responders and community organizations helping to get food to those who need it most. 

“We commend our local restaurants; they have been doing an amazing job preparing meals for our first responders and other community members in need,” said Mark Samson, president of Dirigo Federal Credit Union. “Credit unions will be collecting funds to further support our local restaurants so they can continue their current efforts.”

Since 1990, the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger has raised more than $12.3 million, including over $1 million in food and cash contributions in 2022.

Donations can be made here.

Bruins' Lewiston Strong Fund and auction

The Boston Bruins hockey team is also raising funds for those affected by the mass shootings.

“Maine is a special part of the Bruins family and our hearts are with those affected by this terrible tragedy,” the NHL team said.  

“In that spirit, the Boston Bruins Foundation is pledging a minimum of $100,000 to those affected by these horrific events in Lewiston.”

Donations can be made here.

The Bruins also teamed up with the Anaheim Ducks to auction off player-signed sticks wrapped with blue tape to represent Maine to raise funds for shooting victims and their families; bids can be placed here.

Family fundraising 

Some families affected by the tragedy are doing their own fundraising, via verified GoFundMe campaigns.

Map with heart
Courtesy / GoFundMe
Some families and friends of survivors have launched fundraising campaigns on the GoFundMe crowdfunding website.

All include heart-wrenching messages and photos of happier times, like Billy Brackett with his wife, Kristina Brackett, and their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Sandra in front of a birthday cake. Billy Brackett, 48, was among four deaf individuals killed in the shooting at Schemengees Bar & Grille.

"Billy was a son, a husband, a father, an uncle and a. friend to many — especially in the deaf community he loved so much," Kristin Smith says on the family's GoFundMe page. "We are asking for, in support of the family, in anyway to help them through." As of Monday morning, $27,594 in donations had been received from 518 people.

"Played deaf softball with you in 2005 and 2006," Scott Hakuklin wrote in a message accompanying his donation.

Another donor, Nick Lawler, commented on how Brackett "would sign to you when you had a great hit" in baseball but found something he loved more than baseball a few year ago, his daughter Sandra.

"Holding your family in the light," donor Mia Fairman said in her message. "Love from Waterville."

family with child
Photo / GoFundMe
The family of Billy Brackett, left, who died in the Lewiston mass shooting, has raised more than $25,000 via a GoFundMe campaign. Brackett is shown here with daughter Sandra, and his wife, Kristina Brackett.

Another GoFundMe campaign is led by Tanya Morissette, sister of 55-year-old shooting victim Ron Morin.

"We are torn and shattered," she says on the fundraising page, along with this note: "We thank you from the bottom of our very broken hearts all those who have reached out and continue to reach out and show support."

Every page is equally moving, accompanied by snapshots of weddings and everyday moments that will never be repeated, along with humble pleas for help.

Find all verified GoFundMe fundraisers related to the shooting here.

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