December 24, 2001 12:00 PM

In the 11 years since a patron first tacked a dollar bill to the ceiling of Dennett’s Wharf restaurant in Castine, Maine, customers had papered it with another $12,312. But after Sept. 11, owners Gary Brouillard, 44, and wife Carolyn, 46, thought those greenbacks could be used for a greater good. They hoped to help a family touched by the terror attacks. Explains Carolyn: “We wanted the money to go to a restaurant person.”

After a search of Internet sites listing victims, they settled on Robin Audiffred, a Brooklyn resident whose husband, James, was operating an elevator to the Windows on the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center on that fateful day. When Robin, 41, got Carolyn’s call, she revealed that James, who was 38 when he died, had a passion: Maine lobster and lighthouses. “The first time we visited five years ago,” recalls Robin, the benefits manager at a nonprofit agency, “he was hooked.” The couple returned every summer afterward, taking their son Jason, 19, on four occasions.

The Brouillards, who spent three hours harvesting the cash, take the coincidence as proof they chose well. So does Robin, who plans to carry on the family’s vacation tradition by visiting Dennett’s Wharf. “I looked at the menu and said, ‘I can’t wait!’ ” she says. “It’s definitely a place my husband would have loved.”

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