About Dirigo Kids

What We Do

The mission of Dirigo Kids is to support Maine’s under-privileged youth through fundraising activities

As a child of adoption, I was extremely luck to have grown up with two loving parents in a blue-collar town in Maine. As a child I did not have to go “without” anything. I was always taken care and put first by my parents. I have several friends my age who were also adopted—some were as fortunate as me, others were not. I didn’t realize there were other adopted children out there who weren’t as fortunate. Some had yearning to know their parents, their medical background, and if they had any siblings. Then, there were those whose parents who were not as attentive and loving as mine. There was just always something missing for them. I just wasn’t aware that this world is a case-by-case scenario and you never know what cards you would be dealt.

 

As I look back at the opportunities that I have been afforded in my life, a deeper, eye-opening understanding about society crept into my consciousness. The world is not equal for everyone and I find that unfortunate.

One day my wife came home and told me a story that a coworker shared. A little boy in a group home was unwilling to share what he wanted for a present for the holidays. The group home workers let it pass in the beginning, but then they continued to ask him. Finally, after weeks of hoping to get a response from the boy, he said: “I don’t want to tell you what I want for a present and then be disappointed in the end when I don’t get a present.” The boy was 10 years old, and had never received a present—of any kind. The little boy finally gave in and shared what he wanted. The holiday morning came, the little boy was the first one up, found his name on a present, held it tight and wouldn’t let go—not even to open it! He did finally open it that evening—ever so happy.

 

The above story convinced my wife and myself to go to our first-ever “Toys for Tots” event in Portland, ME. I had a wonderful time, met many great people, and felt good about the support that I shared with the organization. The next year I brought several friends to the event. Then, more of our friends and family began to participate year after year. After several years I was invited to help plan the event.

However, after many years of dedication and support, the local nonprofit group (which ran the civilian side of our annual event) decided to discontinue their support. After what we thought was the end, the former committee members, along with my good friend, John, sparked the idea of creating our own non-profit. Dirigo Kids was born.

The mission of Dirigo Kids is to support Maine’s underprivileged youth through fundraising activities. We will continue to be a brethren organization to our friends, The Marine Corps Reserves, who founded Toys for Tots, as well as serve as many of Maine’s nonprofit groups that support our local communities.

Peter Levesque, President of Dirigo Kids

GySgt Andrew Roberson is an active duty Marine currently serving as a Recruiter in Rhode Island. He has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. His personal awards include the Combat Action Ribbon with Gold Star in lieu of Second award, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star in lieu of fourth award.

Andrew grew up in Mississippi. His biological father left before he was born, but his adopted father played a key role in building Andrew’s work ethic and confidence. A lot of the times Andrew’s mother and father worked two sometimes three jobs to make ends meet and provide for the family.  Even though the family may not get a lot for birthdays and Christmas, there were always gifts.

When Andrew joined the Marine Corps, initially it was to get out of a small town and serve his country.  After completing four deployments, he realized it was time to give back to the community. When he was stationed in Maine, he became the Toys for Tots Coordinator for Central Maine.  He, along with the other Marines and volunteers, we able to collect and distribute over 100,000 toys to tens of thousands of needy children.

There is a fulfilling joy knowing you can look back on your past and know you have made a difference. Providing things to people who otherwise would have nothing sends a message. Hope. Hope that there is someone out there is watching over you and you are not forgotten. Because of that indescribable feeling of bringing joy to the needy, I will forever be a part of it.

Dirigo Kids has just that opportunity as well. Providing for those who otherwise would not. Giving others a chance to persevere regardless of wages, religion, or even their last name. At the end of the day, a person in need is a person worth providing for.

Andrew Roberson, Secretary of Dirigo Kids