Backpack full of school supplies. Submitted photo

REGION — The United Way of the Tri-Valley Area is ready to accept applications for the 8th annual Packs for Progress initiative! While we continue to focus on the needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that we also begin planning for our upcoming initiatives – we plan on being ready to go when the pandemic is behind us! Packs for Progress allows children to receive needed school supplies and a new backpack, so they have the tools they need to start the school year. This year, United Way will be taking applications online: If internet access is an issue, families are welcome to call the office (778-5048) and leave a message. A volunteer will be in touch with you to complete the application on-line.

United Way works with various local businesses, charitable organizations, the Farmington Rotary, and many individuals to do supply drives, raise money, and get the backpacks ready for pick up. From now until August 7, United Way is accepting applications from parents, grandparents, guardians and case managers for children who would benefit from this program. Eligibility requires families to be at the Federal Poverty Level line for the amount of people in your household and these are listed on our website. This program covers Pre-K through 12th grade and is for students living in Greater Franklin County, Livermore or Livermore Falls or attending a school in RSU 9, RSU73, MSAD 58, Rangeley Schools, Stratton School or homeschooled. Extenuating circumstances will be considered, especially in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are now available online at the link above. The pick-up days for the Packs for Progress will be August 24 and 25 before children start back at school.

The United Way is also accepting donations of school supplies from now until August 7. School supplies needed include backpacks, composition books, pocket tissue packs, 1 inch 3-ring binders, crayons, spiral notebooks, markers, colored pencils, pencils, pens, pencil sharpeners, and pencil top erasers. Donations may be given on an individual or an organizational level and are very much appreciated. While the office is closed, donations can be put in the bin outside the door, or please call the office to make arrangements.

Greater Franklin County has a high poverty rate and an even larger rate of students eligible for the free or reduced lunch program. Packs for Progress is an opportunity for parents to relieve even more of that economic burden while ensuring that their children will be ready for the school year. Due to the very generous donations and funding received last year, the United Way provided 614 backpacks to area children, as well as 17 Tools for Teacher totes (one to each public school) and would love to make sure demand can be met this year as well.

For more information about the United Way, visit their website Call (207) 778-5048; visit the office 218 Fairbanks Road, or check out Facebook ( and Instagram for up-to-date information.

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