CAMDEN — The West Bay Rotary’s Backpack Program has returned, and up to 70 local students will receive backpacks filled with school supplies in time for the new year.
In 2012, Barbara Heard started the West Bay Rotary Backpack Program and has been the driving force behind it ever since. In 2015, she approached L.L Bean and they generously supported the program with a donation of 50 new backpacks and have continued this donation every year. This year, Walmart also stepped up and donated a $150 gift certificate. West Bay Rotarians as well as Heard’s friends and clients at Camden Accommodations also donate to the program each year. Depending on the age of the children in need, supplies may include crayons, pencils, three-ring binders, paper, notebooks, folders, calculators and more.
“In the past I worked in the SAD 28 school system and would see students come to school without the necessary ‘tools’. At that time the school nurse, Judy Clossey, had filled backpacks in her office for students whose families could not afford all of the supplies plus a backpack,” said Heard. “At that time I worked with specific students, some who could not afford the proper supplies, so I gave the student I was currently working with a filled backpack and he was thrilled!”
Each year, Heard contacts the schools in Camden, Rockport, Hope, Lincolnville and Appleton and fills backpacks with age/grade appropriate supplies to be given to students that need them. A couple of years ago, she also started working with the Knox County Homeless Coalition/Hospitality House to try and meet their needs. Unfortunately, the coalition alone needs 113 backpacks this year. West Bay Rotary will donate 34 filled backpacks to the coalition and the remainder to the schools, so the program will not be able to meet all the needs in our community. West Bay Rotary is hopeful that this program will continue to grow so they will be able to meet all the needs in the future.
People interested in supporting the Backpack Program can send a check to West Bay Rotary, P.O. Box 1033, Camden, ME 04843. Please note on the check that the donation is for the Backpack Program. If you have new school supplies that you would like to donate, please contact Heard at 207-691-4920.