Benefit Raises $3,244 for Polk Family

By Lura Jackson


The Polks were overjoyed at the support demonstrated by the Calais community at the benefit potluck on Saturday, July 25th. From left to right: Chris, Emma, and Toni Polk, and organizers Arlene and Bill Gibson.  (Photo by Lura Jackson).

The extended community of Calais has once again come together in splendid fashion to show its support for a local family in need. A benefit potluck and auction was held on July 25th at the Second Baptist Church for four year old Emma Polk and her parents, Chris and Toni. More than $3,200 was raised for the family, which has been traveling back and forth to Boston, New Hampshire, and Portland over the course of young Emma’s life. 

“My daughter’s very lucky,” Chris said, describing the difficulties she has been able to surmount. Born almost three months premature, Emma needed surgery within three weeks to fix a defective heart valve. A staph infection led to her right kidney shutting down, and she experienced ongoing seizures until the age of three. After constant visits to specialists and treatments costing upwards of $40,000 a month, Emma became stabilized and no longer suffers from seizures. However, it was soon detected that the previous infection had produced additional difficulties, and Emma’s leg was partially amputated in April of this year. The surgery was successful and her recovery was rapid. Emma was energetic at the benefit, sharing her joyful smile with everyone present.

Chris credits the support of the community and his family for helping him and his wife through the many obstacles they have faced. “When someone asks me how we go to Boston when we can’t afford to, I reply, ‘We just do,’”, he said. “If it wasn’t for my family, we couldn’t do it.” Chris said that last winter they’d lost their car and motor, but were able to keep going thanks to the generosity of others. He said that some people have reached out from other states and even other countries to lend the family a hand. “When I heard about that, I lost it,” he said.


The benefit was organized by Bill and Arlene Gibson, and it featured over eighty donated items to be auctioned. Included were children’s toys such as Lego sets, a Slip N’ Slide, and a water gun as well as home decorations such as handmade quilts, dolls in rocking chairs, and lawn ornaments. Signed books written by local authors as well as paintings donated by local artists were highlights of the auction. Several pans of homemade fudge went for a fair price, as did a beautiful dreamcatcher donated by Maine Indian Education. Dozens of businesses in Calais contributed gift cards, goods, or memberships to the auction including a painting kit and outfit from Sherwin Williams, $20 to Just South of the Border, coffee and a mug from Dunkin Donuts, $100 to Riverside Electric, 18 holes of golf at the St. Croix Country Club, a front end alignment from Pratt’s, $25 to Calais Motor Inn, $30 to PCT Communications, and $20 each to Mercier’s and Hair Masters. When the auction was completed and the grand total announced, the Polks and Gibsons gave an emotional thank you to everyone that helped make the event possible.