Spruce Mountain Primary School in Livermore will be featured during NBC’s Red Nose Day program from 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday, May 25. Principal Kevin Harrington was given 500 Red Noses to distribute to students and staff. Second-grader Dominic Webster, front, received the first Red Nose at a recent assembly. Standing behind him are, from left, Harrington, art teacher and Phoenix Food Pantry coordinator Farrah Poirier and school nurse Deanna Hamblin.

LIVERMORE — Students and staff at Spruce Mountain Primary School will be part of the Red Nose Day program airing at 10 p.m. May 25 on NBC.

Red Nose Day is an outgrowth of efforts begun in the 1980s where comedians used their work to raise money to fight poverty. The focus in America is on child poverty and Feeding America is one organization that benefits. The Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn is a member and has received Red Nose Day grants.

Funds are raised through the sale of red noses, which are worn on Red Nose Day. Celebrities participate, raising awareness and lots of money. This is the third year NBC has been the official television partner in the United States. NBC will air three hours of special programming on May 25.

The third hour will focus on child poverty, and the Good Shepherd Food Bank was selected as the “food bank” story. 

School Principal Kevin Harrington said he was first contacted a couple of months ago and given a gag order while arrangements were being finalized. 

Three years ago, art teacher Farrah Poirier wanted to start a food pantry at the school. Good Shepherd gave the school a $9,000 seed grant. Harrington didn’t know the money came from a Red Nose Day grant.

Ongoing fundraising keeps the Phoenix Food Pantry stocked. Last year, a free produce giveaway was added because the need was so great. Once a month Harrington drives his pickup truck to Auburn and fills it with $1,000 worth of fruits, vegetables and other items available that day.

The food is brought to the school, arranged in the cafeteria and any student in the school can select items to take home. With the consolidation of the Jay and Livermore elementary schools, the Jay school recently began its own free produce program. Food from the Livermore pantry is distributed at both schools.

School nurse Deanna Hamblin met with the television crew at the school last week for several hours.

Actor/comedian Paul Rudd was at Good Shepherd when Harrington picked up the produce order. Rudd and the crew went to the school and helped hand out food and interviewed students.

Some of the crew returned for additional filming last week. Some families were interviewed at their homes.

“The kids flocked to the camera crew,” Harrington said. “They showed them how things worked. A lot of adults had big smiles on their faces. They went away with a lot, too.”

“Everyone was super respectful, and very appreciative. It was a wonderful experience,” Hamblin said.

“Childhood hunger can be a shocker in Maine,” Harrington said. “The kids come well groomed. It’s not so blatant, in your face, as in pictures from third world countries. Other needs, nurturing are not being met. It’s not acceptable for a child to suffer.”

He said lost jobs, issues at the Jay mill and single-parent families are contributing factors. 

“The amount brought in by Red Nose Day over the years is phenomenal,” Harrington said.

Money raised goes to the Red Nose Day Fund, which supports programs that keep children in need safe, healthy and educated.

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