This year’s fundraiser for the Aine Taylor Knight Educational Fund is well under way. Celebrated local artist Eric Hopkins has donated his time and talent to create a beautiful watercolor titled “Aine’s Beach,” and raffle tickets for the original are now on sale.

The fund is an educational and charitable fund started in 2007 after the accidental death of Aine Taylor Knight, a 1994 graduate of Rockland District High School. The goal of the fund is to help Midcoast students stay in school by providing academic, social and emotional assistance to meet their basic and immediate needs. Knight was known for her generous and caring concern for others.

The Maine Community Foundation invests all monies received, and each year sends an amount to Regional School Unit 13. As the fund continues to grow, more students will benefit. This perpetual fund has been used for field trip fees, college application fees, clothing for graduation such as shoes, caps and gowns, a prom dress, running shoes, and a scholarship to attend a youth leadership program in Washington, D.C. In addition, the fund has contributed to the Back Pack Program, which provides back packs filled with food for needy students during the weekend.

Rockland District High School Principal Tom Forti said that students are both surprised and extremely grateful when they are discreetly offered assistance. Knight’s husband, Sy Knight, said, “I feel like Aine is looking down on us from heaven and smiling because she knows we are helping people.”

“Aine’s Beach” is actually Crockett’s Beach in Owls Head. The beach was Knight’s favorite. From childhood she spent hours at the beach collecting sea glass and shells, swimming, sailing and enjoying the tranquil beauty of Penobscot Bay.

In addition to purchasing raffle tickets for $25 each, there are other ways to help make this project a success.

People who make a $250 tax-deductible donation will become a Sustaining Angel. Those who donate $500 can join Eric’s Angels and will receive a signed and numbered 24-inch-by-18-inch limited edition print of “Aine’s Beach.”

All donors giving a minimum of $250 will be entered into the raffle for the original painting. The drawing will take place Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, at RDHS during the boys varsity basketball game.

Also for sale are signed and numbered prints for $500 and packages of four note cards for $10 each. All proceeds go directly to the Aine Taylor Knight Educational Fund.

For more information or to purchase any of the items, call Northport Marine Services at 338-0077, Knight Marine Service at 594-4068, Eric Hopkins Gallery at 594-1996 or Rheal Day Spa at 594-5077.

Donations may also be sent to the Maine Community Foundation, 245 Main St., Ellsworth, ME 04605.