FARMINGTON — The United Way has partnered with Stericycle Communication Solutions and Farmington Rotary to offer backpacks and school supplies through Packs for Progress.

Twenty-one per cent of Franklin County’s children live in poverty, and 55 per cent of the county’s school-aged children qualify for free or reduced lunch (Maine Kids Count, 2013-14). This program relieves some of the economic burden on parents and to help kids succeed in school. Packs for Progress, which is in its fourth year, promises to make an even bigger impact on students’ success this year. 250 backpacks were stuffed last year, and this year’s goal is 400 — an increase of 328 students supported from the 72 that were distributed in the first year.

Donations are needed to help reach this new goal. Supplies or cash donations may be dropped off at United Way at 232 Broadway in Farmington or at TD Bank in Farmington. Requested items include three-hole punched lined paper, one-inch binders, pencils, pens, spiral-bound notebooks, erasers and composition books.

A backpack stuffing event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12. Community members are invited to join in and help fill the backpacks so that they will be ready to go for the students. Volunteers can sign up on or call 778-5048. This event will happen rain or shine.

Those interested in reserving a backpack may call United Way at 778-5048. Recipients must be from Franklin County, Starks, Livermore, or Livermore Falls. Backpacks may be picked at United Way between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Aug. 13 and 14.

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