Jamie Dorr, president of the Midcoast Community Alliance, with one of the Set for Success donation boxes for school supplies in Bath. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

BATH — Regional School Unit 1’s debut Set for Success event last summer, where students were welcome to pick up free back-to-school supplies – drew about 600 students, or almost a third of the district’s pupil population.

This year, Midcoast Community Alliance President Jamie Dorr and her fellow event organizers are aiming for more than 800.

“Set for Success” will be held at Bath Middle School, 6 Old Brunswick Road, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25. Students in all grades in RSU 1’s four communities – Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich – are welcome to attend, regardless of financial need.

“We also welcomed in home school families, and families that live in the district but maybe their children go somewhere else,” Dorr said Aug. 5. The event went “incredibly well,” she added, and “a lot of people described it as almost like Christmas.”

More information is available by calling Dorr at 443-6856, or visiting mcamaine.org/set-for-success.

The event’s offerings stretch well beyond the traditional notebooks, pens and pencils, backpacks and 1-inch binders, with clothing and haircuts included as well. A handful of hairstylists gave more than 100 haircuts last year.

“We’re really hoping to increase the number of hairstylists and barbers this year, because it was such a big hit with the families,” Dorr noted.

The Community Clothing Closet will also have gently worn clothing and shoes on hand.

An “Information Highway” offered details on more than 25 community organizations that provide educational support, behavioral health services, and address addiction, health issues and food insecurity. Organized by MCA member and Police Chief Mike Field, that service will be back again this year.

Those programs reflect MCA’s mission: to boost mental health awareness and support for families in need, while reducing stigma.

“I’ve organized a lot of events over the years, but this one sort of takes care of itself,” Dorr said. “People want to be involved. The kids want to come, the parents want to come, the organizations want to be a part of it, sponsors want to be a part of it. So it’s really just been an incredible community builder.”

When MCA put out a request for event volunteers, “I think I had 25 or 30 (responses) in the first hour,” she recalled. “Never in my life have I had an event that has drawn in that many people.”

The influx of sponsorships precluded MCA from conducting any fundraising, Dorr said. Most supplies are already in hand, and volunteers will collect the donations from the various boxes through Sunday, Aug. 18.

Last year’s event garnered enough supplies for about 850 students, and the 2019 edition is preparing for that as well. Surplus items, including any received after the event, are saved for the following year.

MCA is working with Allen Cohen of Big Al’s Super Values to procure school supplies at deeply discounted prices. Supply donation boxes where pens and notebooks can be dropped are available at Mustard Seed Books, Hair Creations Salon, the Bath Skatepark and Youth Meetinghouse, the Bath Area Family YMCA, Salvation Army, the Bath Parks and Recreation office, and Bath United Methodist Church.

School administrators check-in students, who are provided with a list of supplies specific to their classes. The youths then use those “shopping lists” to pick out what they need.

Dorr stressed that “Set for Success” is geared toward all students, regardless of financial need.

“We really want everyone coming in,” she said. “It helps us remove the stigma; if we’re all there together, then we are all one.”

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