SEARSMONT — Waldo County Woodshed, a nonprofit providing free firewood for people in need around the Midcoast, is now in its eighth winter. Organizers had their first volunteer day Oct. 30 at their processing hub in Searsmont, followed by pizza and beer at Thresher’s brewery next door.

On hand this gray morning was state Sen. Chip Curry, D-Waldo, who helped with splitting and loading wood.

WCW President Bob MacGregor said he did not realize it was the first day of hunting season. “We expected a lot more people,” he said.

This year, MacGregor said, the Woodshed has been able to buy more wood than ever before — from 140 cords last year to 200 cords this year. That is supplemented by donated firewood and branches collected after storms, which are processed once a week by volunteers in Searsmont.

Recently MacGregor posted on Facebook his appreciation to the city of Belfast Cemetery Department, and Belfast Veterans of Foreign Wars Randall Collins Post 3108, for their donation of several tractor loads of wood following last week’s storm. “After we sort out the wood there’s probably three to four cords of valuable BTUs in the donation,” he wrote.“We always run out by March,” MacGregor noted. Last year the Woodshed gave wood to people from Waldoboro to Bangor.

Dawn Caswell is co-president and treasurer of Waldo County Woodshed, and along with MacGregor, started the wood bank program back in 2015. MacGregor remembers a 2014 opinion article in the Bangor Daily News from a student and a University of Maine professor about the need for wood banks in the state as the impetus for starting the nonprofit.

Comparing census data, Waldo County stood out as one of two counties in the state, along with Piscataquis, that would benefit from a wood heating assistance program. “We thought, we can do that,” he said. With a donation from Bangor Savings Bank that first year, “we were in it,” he said.

Raven Romska volunteers her skills and her chainsaw Oct. 30, at Waldo County Woodshed’s main processing hub in Searsmont. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Volunteer Raven Romska of Morrill said she is new to the area and thought it would be a good opportunity to offer her services as a chainsaw sawyer, and meet people. This summer, Romska said, she trained with the Forest Service at Montana Conservation Corps, building burn piles for prescribed burns. She said the job entailed running a chainsaw all the time and added that she is actively looking for work.

There are eight wood yards throughout the county where people can pick up a quarter-cord of free firewood at a time, including Searsmont, Waldo, Monroe, Frankfort, Searsport, Belfast, Thorndike and Brooks. People interested in receiving wood can call 338-2692 to sign up and schedule a time and location to pick up firewood.

According to the Waldo County Woodshed website, wood is available on a first-come, first-served basis at a few locations, but recipients must sign up in advance. When more wood has been processed, other locations will open. People are asked to call only once and leave a message, and someone will return the call.

For more information or to volunteer, visit waldocountywoodshed.org or email waldowoodshed@gmail.com.