Members of Randall Collins Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3108 received a welcome boost to their building fund with a donation of $2,500 from Faith Temple Church of God Thursday, March 4.

The donation brings the post a little closer to having the means to build a new facility to replace its aging 5,000-square-foot building on Field Street.

Previous estimates showed the cost to remove the old building and construct a new single-story, handicapped-accessible facility to be upwards of $375,000.

Joy Asuncion, a retired Navy senior chief, leads the military ministry at Faith Temple Church on Lincolnville Avenue, where many veterans are part of the congregation.

"I try to help them navigate the system" in terms of benefit questions, she said. She also organizes special programing specific to veterans to keep patriotism alive, honor veterans and teach children.

"The VFW has been a great partner," she said, lending its color guard, playing "Taps" for special occasions, and participating in a number of events. "They are a very active post," she said, noting that she also is a member.

"They are very good about turning out for any event," she said. "If I call and say we have a need — they find a way."

Faith Temple Pastor Art Fairbrother said the check was in appreciation for all that the VFW post has "done for us."

"We have a very active military ministry and we just wanted to thank them,"  Fairbrother said.

The contribution from the church comes at a time when most fundraising events at the post have been canceled because of the pandemic. "This means a lot to us," Operations Manager Jim Roberts said. "I am extremely grateful for the donation from the Faith Temple Church."

The church has provided clergy to officiate at graveside services for members of the VFW and has joined in parades and on the 9-11 walk, Roberts said. "It's been a wonderful partnership."

A profit and loss statement supplied by Roberts shows that from April to June of 2019 the post's net income was $62,475, while in 2020 for the same time period, it was only $9,376, a drop of 85%.

"In one quarter we lost $53,000," Roberts said. It is hard to provide services with such a huge deficit. Undiscouraged, Roberts said the post has collected about $125,000 for the construction of the new building. "It's about a third of the way there," he said.

The building fund has survived, Roberts said, with the generosity and aid of donations. Recent donations include $800 form Quirk Auto of Belfast, $1,000 from Audrey Deveney, $300 from Belfast Jewelers, $250 from Consumers Fuel Co. and $250 from MaineHealth.

Raffle donations from area businesses include a welders' package from Belfast Tractor Supply, a barbecue smoker from Hammond Lumber, a $100 gift card from Harbor Freight and a $100 gift card from Hamilton Marine.

Roberts said the post was also the recipient of a $10,000 award from the Steven and Tabitha King Foundation specifically to aid in construction and help veterans.

The post applied for a grant through United Midcoast Charities of Camden, Roberts said, and Executive Director John Viehman called and wanted to help. Because the post is a membership organization, he could not help the VFW directly, but discovered the food pantry, which operates out of the first floor of the Field Street building, needed help with its van.

No Greater Love Food Pantry Assistant Director and Secretary Mary Guindon said the van the pantry uses to pick up donations from Hannaford Supermarket stores had failed an inspection because of rust.

"We were using our own personal vehicles and had to make several trips," she said. "The van is essential for us."

Viehman took the issue to United Midcoast Charities' Board of Directors and was able to secure $600 for repairs to the van, she said.

Guindon said the pantry was extremely thankful for the donation, and is now beginning to get excited about the new building.

The pantry had been looking for an industrial freezer, she said, but realized the current building's electrical system could not support it. She is hoping the new facility will include a walk-in freezer and cold storage unit.

Anyone interested in helping the VFW post reach its financial goal for a new facility can send donations to Building Fund, 34 Field St., Belfast, ME 04915.