Ten Colby & Gale Inc. customers were surprised with free propane tank fill-ups, flowers, and chocolate on Friday, Feb. 10, in the company’s seventh yearly Fuel Your Love event.
The Damariscotta-based company joined nine other energy providers around the state in providing the surprises this year in the event hosted by the Maine Energy Marketers Association.
Selected customers across South Bristol, New Harbor, Damariscotta, and Newcastle got a call from office manager Rhonda Mott saying they were in need of a tank service appointment.
Instead, delivery driver Larry Lane appeared in a truck decorated with “Fuel Your Love” signs, accompanied by service dispatcher Kerri Lincoln and customer service representative Leigh Benner carrying flowers, chocolates, and a card.
“We had to lie to you!” they told customers with a laugh, met with hugs and exclamations.
“Good grief!” Donna Plummer said on her front steps in South Bristol, holding her flowers and chocolates.
“This is the most generous thing,” Wendy Ogden said in shock outside her New Harbor home while she hugged all three employees.
Two members of Colby & Gale’s office staff are selected each year to deliver the chocolate and flowers, a role they are eager for.
Benner and Lincoln, who have both been with the company for over 15 years, know many of their longtime customers well and took photos with several.
They said that deliveries were more need-based in earlier years, but as energy support resources have grown in the county, the mostly random selection has expanded.
Matt Poole, company president, said Colby & Gale participates every year because Fuel Your Love aligns with the company’s community-based values. Customers are chosen somewhat at random, with an emphasis on those who are active behind the scenes in the community.
Customer tanks are refilled all the way, averaging 150 to 175 gallons. Previous years have delivered heating oil, propane this year.
“We’re just trying to help good people,” he said.
For Poole, whose company is heavily involved in community sponsorship throughout Lincoln County, the event is based on “sharing joy and making people smile.”
“I know what it feels like to walk up to that door with the chocolate and flowers, for those 60 seconds before they know what’s happening,” Poole said. “That’s what it’s all about for us.”