FARMINGTON — The United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, Farmington Rotary and local businesses are partnering to offer backpacks filled with school supplies to any eligible student in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 in greater Franklin County through Packs for Progress.

Twenty-one percent of Franklin County’s children live in poverty, and 55 percent of the county’s school-age children qualify for free or reduced lunch. This program relieves some of the economic burden on parents and helps children succeed in school.

In 2014, 250 backpacks were stuffed. Last year, 475 backpacks were distributed. This year’s goal is 500.

Supply or cash donations are welcome and may be dropped off at United Way, 218 Fairbanks Road. Requested items include backpacks, three-hole punched lined paper, 1-inch binders, pencils, pens, spiral-bound notebooks, erasers and composition books.

Edgewood Rehabilitation & Living Center, along with United Way staff and volunteers, will host a backpack stuffing event from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18.

Community members are invited to join in and help fill the backpacks. Volunteers can sign up on or by calling 207-778-5048. Event is rain or shine.

The United Way is accepting applications to reserve backpacks. Those interested may call 207-778-5048 or download one at Recipients must be from Franklin County, Starks, Livermore, or Livermore Falls.

Backpacks may be picked up from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at United Way on Aug. 22 or 23.

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