BATH — Donation boxes for the first Regional School Unit 1 Back to School: Set for Success event have started appearing in businesses around the Greater Bath area. A project of the Midcoast Community Alliance, the first Back to School: Set for Success event aims to level the playing field for every family and student in RSU 1 with free backpacks and school supplies.

The program is modeled on Boothbay’s own successful Set for Success program, which is in its seventh year.
Volunteers will collect donated school supplies throughout the summer for the event scheduled on Aug. 19. The doors at the Bath Middle School will open at 10 a.m. for a day of fun and a celebration of learning and community.

Every student, pre-k to 12, will be offered a free backpack, which can then be filled with school supplies for the coming year. Students may fill their own backpacks if they choose.

Students pre-K to 8 should plan on attending from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and high school students from 1 to 3 p.m.
Teachers will provide their “shopping” lists, and, along with pencils and paper, students will have access to free haircuts, mini-manicures, and can even shop for clothing in the free Clothing Closet.

One of the most important features of the day is the Information Highway, which will offer information from community organizations involved in behavioral health services, educational support, addiction and health issues, food insecurity and more. Midcoast Community Alliance member Mike Field, Bath’s police chief, is organizing the Info Highway.
MCA was formed to promote mental health awareness, reduce stigma and increase support for families in need. MCA Director Jamie Dorr firmly believes the kind of support offered at the Set for Success event is critical to building strong family foundations.
“The goal is for people to see that this is more than just giving out school supplies. It’s a way to make sure every student is starting off on a level playing field and that no one falls through the cracks,” Dorr said.

“It’s about students and families getting to know the community organizations who provide a variety of supports. It’s about strengthening relationships through face-to-face connections in a fun, celebratory way. In the end, it’s passionately caring for each and every child in our community.”

Families who choose to opt out of the school supply program are encouraged to make a donation in any amount on the website (or at a donation box site), and then bring their students to the event.

“The best outcome is if we have the whole community on board,” Dorr said. “And, if we all chip in a little, we can do a lot.”

MCA looks forward to continuing the good work of Toni Weber and the Masonics Solar Star No. 14 Lodge in Bath, who have been providing school supplies to students in the Greater Bath community for the last five years.

Donation boxes are located at local businesses such as the Bath YMCA, Brackett’s Market, and Mustard Seed Bookstore, as well as other sites around the Bath area. MCA is seeking sponsorships and financial benefactors to cover the cost of supplies for every student (there are 2,000 in RSU 1).

For more information, visit www.mcamaine.org.