PARIS — For years Oxford Hills school district staff have participated in an internal community service program that helps bridge financial gaps for students in a variety of ways.

“Cents for Kids” is funded through employees donating a few cents from each paycheck towards the fund, which helps kids participate in extracurricular and athletic activities and also supports students going through hardships.

The Wheelers Insurance team is Bowling with the Businesses at Stars & Strikes this Monday to raise money for Cents for Kids, an Oxford Hills school district program that supports students in need. Supplied photo

Some of the things Cents for Kids help fund are graduation caps and gowns, student yearbook purchases and equipment and gear for athletes. It also provides tuition support for students who wish to attend summer camp and for DECA students who need help with travel expenses.

Gas and gift cards are provided to students and their families to help pay for transportation associated with medical care, in cases of home loss due to fires and to support them through other life-altering events like bereavement.

And the fund makes contributions to other student-related programs and activities – Project Graduation, Christmas for Kids and Christmas for Teens.

Oxford Hills Middle School cheering coach Leanna Bowie has tapped into it to help cover the costs of cheering equipment and gear for team members who could not afford to pay for it all themselves.


Now Bowie, who is Wheelers Insurance’s marketing officer, is giving back to Cents for Kids with a new business fundraiser, 2023 Bowling with the Businesses. It will take place next Monday at Stars & Strikes Bowling in South Paris. Area businesses are sponsoring teams of four to play in an afternoon-evening tournament between 3-8 p.m.

“Last year we did sort of a test run” on the tournament, Bowie said. “We wanted to do something to get local businesses together to support each other and get out in the community. It was just for fun.

“We started with just four teams, but then other businesses wanted to jump in and we ended up with 12 full teams. So then we were like, ‘let’s do this again, but let’s make it benefit something.'”

Recognizing the difference Cents for Kids made for some of the athletes on OHMS’ cheering team, Bowie decided to donate the proceeds from a one-day bowling tournament to the fund. She planned for 12 teams to participate once again but quickly found a growing wait list from as other businesses wanted to join in the fun.

“We’re doing three different bowl times,” said Russ Nealey, owner of Stars & Strikes. “We’re going at 3:30, 5 and 6:30 p.m. Each team bowls two games. And then the top three teams will play a one string roll-off to see who has the best business team in Oxford Hills.”

“We ended up with 32 business teams,” Bowie said. “It’s $80 per team to play, and I expect some businesses and players may want to donate extra on top of that.”


That means in a matter of hours Cents for Kids’ support fund will grow by a few thousand dollars and perhaps more. Fund co-chair Cathy Routhier, who is a social worker at OHMS and oversees the fund, is thrilled by the news. She has been involved with Cents for Kids for about 10 years and said it’s been an employee-supported program for many more.

“The way we fund it is through employee payroll,” she said. “But it doesn’t earn as much as it used to before COVID, mostly due to people retiring. I believe a lot of our newer hires don’t even realize they can make requests for students, never mind put money into it.

“It’s always been really low-key. Leanna wanted to use a logo on the registration forms. Well, we didn’t have one so she designed one for us herself.”

Bowie is already looking towards making Bowling with the Businesses bigger next year.

“We learned from last year that we could make it work, and we’re seeing what works now,” she said. “Next year we’ll make it bigger and better.”

All of Stars & Strikes’ bowling lanes will be booked through the whole event but community spectators are welcome to drop in join the fun any time Monday, starting at 3:30 p.m.


3:30 Teams
The Hydrant
Avalon Counseling
Foothills Flooring
Ackerman Concrete
Strange Events
The Progress Center
Simply Soft Waxing
Oxford Hills Rotary
Live Life Family Practice
DOES, Inc.

5:00 Teams
Norway Candle Co.
Aroma Joe’s
TCR Boutique
Bearfoot Realty
Bernadette’s  Bakery
Oxford Federal Credit Union
Cut Loose
Reid Service Center
The Maine Room
White Mountain Homes

6:30 Teams
Wheelers Insurance
290 Maine Street
Flanders Electric
The Bodwell Team
Hair Plus
Bridge to Success
Maine Line Plumbing
Hoisington & Bean
Turnkey Homes
Maine Street Supply


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