Feed Our Scholars, a Wiscasset nonprofit, is collecting donations for its annual Set for Success program, which provides back-to-school supplies for local elementary school students, but the deadline for donations is approaching.

According to the nonprofit’s online wish list on Amazon, classrooms are calling for everything from pencils, markers and notebooks to disinfectant wipes and dry erase markers.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school supplies donated will be sent to classrooms for teachers to distribute rather than hosting a large distribution event for families like in prior years. Teachers will keep any excess materials to give to students throughout the year as needed.

Wiscasset Elementary School Principal Kathleen Pastore said the program takes a financial burden off families and teachers and gives students the cherished ritual of choosing new back-to-school supplies regardless of their family’s financial standing.

Pastore said the organization aims to collect enough supplies to outfit all pre-kindergarten through fifth grade Wiscasset students.

“To know that all families are taken care of gives you a sense of relief that there’s no child that won’t be able to open a new pencil case on the first day of school,” said Pastore. “There’s still something special about a family participating in a back-to-school shopping ritual. The emotional state of looking forward to school is almost as important as having all the things you need. All those new supplies embody a fresh start to the school year.”

Nationwide, families with children in elementary through high school reported spending an average of about $790 on back-to-school supplies in 2020, a survey from the National Retail Federation found.

Pastore was a kindergarten and first grade teacher for 20 years. During her that time, Pastore estimated she spent between $500 and $1,000 out of her own pocket on school supplies for her students each year, and she said she wasn’t alone.

“No teacher wants any child to go without,” said Pastore.

Anyone interested in donating supplies in-person can bring them to St. Philip’s Church on Hodge Street in Lippiat Hall. There is also a supplies drop-off at the First Bank on Gardiner Road.

Supplies purchased off the organization’s online wish list are shipped directly to the Set for Success, according to a statement from the organization.

Monetary donations can also be dropped off in designated containers in various businesses around Wiscasset, as well as at the Wiscasset Chamber of Commerce information booth on the pier downtown.

As of July 15, Feed Our Scholars had raised about $900 for its Set for Success program, according to Pastore.

The deadline for donations is Saturday, July 31.

When it’s not stocking students’ backpacks with school supplies, Feed Our Scholars works to curb food insecurity in local students.

“Many children rely on school cafeterias for their most nutritious meal of the day,” the organization wrote on its website. “In some cases, this may be the only meal a child receives. Each Friday afternoon during the school year, kids are discreetly and confidentially provided a food-filled bag to ensure they have something to eat during the weekend.”

The Bath-based Midcoast Youth Center, a nonprofit serving local students, offers its own Set for Success event that provides new backpacks, school supplies, haircuts and gently used clothing to all Regional School Unit 1 students. About 600 RSU 1 students attend the event each year.

The youth center’s event will take place on Saturday, Aug. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the new Morse High School off Congress Avenue in Bath.

The Midcoast Youth Center operates out of the Bath Skatepark and provides free afterschool programs with adult mentors, homework clubs and art classes. The youth center also has free snacks, provided by the Bath Area Backpack Program, donated clothing for children in need, and volunteers bring in free meals three times a week.

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