In 2014, cashiers all over Aroostook asked customers to Add it Up.  Add it Up takes a customer’s purchase and adds it up to the nearest dollar; the added up change is then donated to Aroostook Aspirations Initiative (AAI) to support their efforts to ensure that more young people in Aroostook County achieve a college degree.  Customers began saying “Add that up”, and before long, their pocket change added up to a significant fundraiser for AAI and a milestone for a local grocery chain.

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative

Paradis Shop ‘n Save was a major part of the success of Add it Up in 2014, raising $5,000.   The program began in Caribou Shop ‘n Save, the first store to raise over $1,000 in Aroostook, and gained momentum quickly. This summer, the Fort Kent Paradis Shop ‘n Save raised over $2,300, and the Houlton store joined in the effort in July.  At year’s end, three communities helped Paradis reach the $5,000 Innovation marker.  The small family owned chain will sponsor the Innovator of the Year in Northern Aroostook for 2015.  Innovator of the year is presented to a teacher, classroom, or school group that uses technology in new and innovative ways to foster learning at the program’s yearly Gala. Kathy Roy is proud of the efforts of her employees. “Paradis is honored to be the first innovator of the year sponsor.  Aroostook is all about communities helping communities. When we all work together, wonderful things can happen.  Add it Up is a great example of a community investing in the community.  These dollars all come back to Aroostook, and by participating, by donating, we invest in the most important resource any of us have, our children.”

Add it Up gives every person in a community the opportunity tohelp raise money for the continued support of Gauvin Scholars, students selected from every local high school in Aroostook.  AAI represents the programing component that offers mentoring, guidance, and support to Gauvin Scholars, all pursuing a degree at an Aroostook County college.  In addition to the mentoring and programming opportunities, Gauvin Scholars also receive a $1,000 renewable scholarship.April Flagg, the executive director of AAI, and staff members were familiar faces in grocery stores throughout the year, thanking customers for their support and providing a resource for cashiers.  Flagg sees Add it Up as a great way for an entire community join the efforts of the program, “Add it Up is important to the future work of Aroostook Aspirations Initiative.  It gives all members of our communities a chance to feel as though they are a piece of the work we do every day.  Anyone can donate to the program with Add it Up.  Donations can be as small or as large as the customer wants.  We are so grateful to Paradis; they took this program on and showed how successful it can be.  We can’t wait to see what 2015 brings.”

Fort Kent Gauvin Scholar Patrick Belanger spent time at the Fort Kent Paradis store, and Jessica Tucker, the Gauvin Scholar from Southern Aroostook High School, joined in at the Houlton Paradis location.  Krista Beaupre, the Gauvin Scholar from Caribou, was a familiar face at the Caribou Shop ‘n Save, often speaking to customers about the AAI program and her experience as a Gauvin Scholar. The program teamed up with the workers at each Paradis location and the Gauvin Scholars to create unique ads encouraging Aroostook communities to Add it Up.

Ray and Sandy Gauvin Founded Aroostook Aspirations Initiative in April 2013.  The program’s mission focuses on helping Aroostook students achieve college degrees in Aroostook colleges and universities and as a result boosting economic numbers, degree attainment percentages, and workforce percentages.  Community members are an important part of AAI’s work and can volunteer, be a guest speaker at a Scholar retreat, or send donations through the website or to 26 North Street Box 138, Presque Isle, ME 04769.  If you would like to launch an Add it Up campaign, call the Presque Isle office of Aroostook Aspirations at 760-0558.  To learn more about the program and how you can help, visit www.gauvinfund.org.  Interested community members can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Linked In.

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