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The Buteau/Steller family members, Connor, Rick, Kendra, Erica and Troy, are collecting and cleaning warm clothing that will be distributed to those in need. (DEBRA THORNBLAD PHOTO)

Berlin family will help others on #Giving Tuesday


BERLIN — Two and a half years ago the Buteau/Steller family lost their home and everything in it in a fire.

“We got out with just the clothes on our backs,” Erica Buteau said.

Ten days later, Erica lost her job, and shortly thereafter her husband, Rick, who had taken retirement from his job at the prison, got done there.

It’s safe to say the Buteau/Steller family has known tough times.

“We’ve been at the bottom,” Buteau said.

But the tough times had a flip side, and that’s the generosity and help they received from the community.

After the fire, help started coming in — clothes, furniture and monetary donations.

“We can never say thanks enough to everyone,” Buteau said.

But they’re going to try.

Erica Buteau, a Berlin/Milan native, runs a family life blog, ButeauFull Chaos. It was through her online activities that she discovered #Giving Tuesday, a movement that encourages communities, individuals and other groups to give back to a charity of their choice. #Giving Tuesday will be held on Dec. 3.

On that day, the Buteau/Steller family will hold a Winter Warmth drive to collect new or clean, gently used warm coats, hats, mittens, gloves, snow pants and blankets to give to anyone who needs them.

Erica has engaged her family: husband Rick and children Troy, a freshman at Berlin High School, Kendra, a student at Hillside Elementary, and Connor, a student at Brown Elementary. Together the family hopes to encourage other families to do something inspirational, give back and donate something warm to help another family in need.

“For fun and to help,” Connor said, about why he’s excited to participate.

Kendra said she wants to help to make sure kids are warm. She said she’s seen kids walking to school when it’s cold in just a T-shirt.

Rick, who now works for a nonprofit, said he feels good about what the family is doing.

“The main reason we wanted to give back to the community was because they helped us so much,” he said.

If the drive is successful this year, the family said they will probably continue to do it every year.

In the past, Community Bible Church has held a clothing swap, but was unable to this year, so Erica approached them about helping out and they said yes. The coats collected will be brought there to their clothing closet and distributed to those in need.

Tuesday, Dec. 3, will be a busy day at the Buteau/Steller house. They will be collecting, sorting and washing, if needed, everything collected. They will be tweeting that day under #Giving Tuesday.

People do not have to wait until Tuesday to donate. The family has received one bag of donations and will be collecting from now until Dec. 3.

To donate items contact the family at Erica@ericabuteau.com or send a message through the Facebook page to make arrangements for pickup.

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