MEXICO — A third-grade teacher at Meroby Elementary School summed up the gift of more than 300 backpacks filled with all sorts of school supplies.

“Wow! What a deal! This is a great celebratory kickoff,” said Alan Tacheny.

The gifts are from Ruth’s Renewable Resources, a Portland-based non-profit that aims to provide Maine children with supplies to help them succeed in school.

Children from pre-K through grade 5 and their parents streamed into the school’s gym on Thursday afternoon to pick up their backpacks.

“This is really cool,” said fifth-grader Julia Sirois of Rumford. “The people were really nice to donate these to our school.”

Julia was one of the lucky ones to snag a hot pink backpack. Others for her age group came in greens, blues, reds and other colors.

Backpacks for pre-K through grade 3 were filled with slightly different supplies than for those in grades 4 and 5. But all contained a great variety of brand new items — markers, crayons, binders, glue, pencils and colored pencils, erasers, and a multitude of other items.

Kim Fuller, a fourth-grade teacher and one of the school’s head teachers, said every family was notified of the gift.

“This is the first time we’ve had this,” she said.

Other schools in Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 that will receive the same gifts are Rumford Elementary School, Mountain Valley Middle School and Hartford/Sumner Elementary School.

According to an information sheet provided by Ruth’s Renewable Resources, the organization will serve 1,500 Maine students this year. Schools are generally chosen based on the number of free and reduced lunches for which students are eligible.

The organization cannot supply every school that qualifies, according to the information sheet, but tries to serve as many as possible.

Ruth’s Renewable Resources works with businesses to conduct employee school supply drives, as well as with companies that have surplus materials. The items are then packed in age-appropriate backpacks and distributed.

This year, Unum, Anthem, IDEXX and WGME worked together on the project.

Colby Dow, a first-grader from Mexico, and his cousin, second-grader Jack Jamison were busy writing thank you notes for their bright yellow backpacks.

“This is really cool,” Colby said.

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