LIVERMORE FALLS — “Fill the Bus for Mr. Mike” will be held 1-3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, at the Cedar Street Central Office to remember bus driver Mike Collins, who died unexpectedly Nov. 8.

Counselors will be available at the Central Office during the event for anyone needing help.

“Our transportation/facilities departments, district, and community suffered a devastating loss this week of our colleague and friend, Mike Collins. We have created an event that we hope will honor Mr. Mike and help our community at the same time, which Mike would have loved!” Shawn Keene, Regional School Unit 73 transportation department administrative assistant, wrote in a Nov. 12 email to all RSU 73 staff. “We will have Mr. Mike’s Bus #5 parked at Central Office for people to drop off non-perishable food items, which we then will deliver to our local food banks.”

The community, friends, co-workers, family and all who knew Collins are asked to ‘fill the bus’ in his memory. A basket will be available to leave cards or messages for his family.
RSU 73 Facilities/Maintenance Director and former Transportation Director Ken Vining provided information on Collins’ work experience with the district in an email Monday, Nov. 16. From January 2010 to 2014, Collins was the day custodian at the Spruce Mountain Primary School in Livermore. His bus run was in Livermore on the Gibbs Mill, Boothby and Norlands roads plus all side roads, part of the River Road and into Livermore Falls, then to the schools.
From 2014 to present, in addition to the bus run noted above, Collins was custodian at the Central Office/Adult Education Building and maintained all the fields and grounds on the South Campus in Livermore Falls, Vining wrote.
“Being Mike’s supervisor, I can say he was one of the most dedicated, hard working employees, always willing  to go the extra mile to help get things done. As a bus driver, Mike was a driver who truly cared about each and every student, always making them feel safe and important. Mike was certainly an outstanding person, employee and a friend to all,” Vining wrote.
Collins was married, had two daughters and four grandchildren, Keene said Monday during a phone call.
“Mike was very much loved and respected. He touched a lot of people in this community,” she said. “He was drawn to kids who had issues on the bus, reached out to them. His was a safe bus.”
“He was a wonderful person, had a heart of gold especially for the kids on his bus. Those kids were so important to him. He got to know them personally. He was so much a part of the community. He’ll be missed every day.”
Donations have already been dropped off at Keene’s house, she said.
“A speech therapist who worked at the primary school when I was there contacted me through Facebook. She now lives down South,” Keene added.
On Nov. 20, there will be cones set up to drive through at the Central Office. High school students in the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program will accept donations and fill the bus so drivers don’t need to leave their vehicles.
“I know that Mr. Mike would be so honored by this, as he was so invested in the lives of the students on his bus. He truly cared about each one of them. To have students offering to help in his honor is just another example of the impact he had on the students of our district,” Keene wrote in her email.
For those wishing to donate but can’t make it Friday, please call Denise at 207-520-4290 to arrange pickup.

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