CAMDEN — Barbara Heard is once again the leader of the pack…backpacks that is. Thanks to Barbara’s efforts and passion, up to 60 local students will receive backpacks filled with school supplies thanks to the West Bay Rotary Backpack Program.
In 2012, Barbara 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. They have continued their support each year and this year increased that donation to 60 backpacks. West Bay Rotarians step up to the plate each year with cash donations to try and fill the backpacks. Over the past few years, even Barbara’s friends and clients at Camden Accommodations have donated to the program. Depending on the age of the children in need, supplies may include crayons, pencils, three-ring binders, paper, notebooks, folders, calculators and more.
When asked about how the program got started, Barbara remembered exactly what gave her the idea. “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. 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, Barbara 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 91 backpacks this year, 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 include a notation that the money is for the Backpack Program. For more information about West Bay Rotary, please visit www.