No matter what back to school will look like this year, West Bay Rotary’s Backpack Program is back.

In 2012, Barbara Heard started the West Bay Rotary Backpack Program and has been the driving force behind it ever since.  In 2015, she approached L.L Bean and they supported the program with a donation of 50 new backpacks and have continued this donation every year.  For the second year in a row, Walmart stepped up and donated gift cards for the purchase of supplies. West Bay Rotarians, as well as Heard’s friends, also donate to the program each year. Depending on the age of the children in need, supplies may include crayons, pencils, three-ring binders, paper, notebooks, folders, calculators, and more.

Heard remembers exactly what gave her the idea for this program. “In the past I worked in the SAD 28 school system and would see students come to school without the necessary ‘tools.’ The school nurse, Judy Clossey, filled backpacks in her office for students whose families could not afford all of the supplies plus a backpack. At that time I worked with specific students, some who could not afford the proper supplies, so I gave the student I was currently working with a filled backpack and he was thrilled!”

Each year, Heard contacts the schools in the five town area as well as the Knox County Homeless Coalition/Hospitality House and fills backpacks with age/grade appropriate supplies to be given to students who need them. Although 50 backpacks is not enough to meet the needs of all students, with more donations the club can purchase additional backpacks and supplies. West Bay Rotary is hopeful that this program will continue to grow so they will be able to meet all the needs in the future.

People interested in supporting the Backpack Program can send a check to West Bay Rotary, P.O. Box 1033, Camden, ME  04843.  Note on the check that the donation is for the Backpack Program. You can also donate through the link on West Bay Rotary’s website at https://www.westbayrotaryofmaine.org/.