WATERVILLE — To help children have a successful start to their school year, the United Way of Mid-Maine and the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program partnered to collect school supplies for children in need. The goal was to fill 500 backpacks with the donated items, which would then be distributed to students throughout Kennebec and Somerset counties, according to a news release from United Way of Mid-Maine.

UWMM and KVCAP surpassed their goal, filling 550 backpacks.

The backpacks, for children in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, were filled with notebooks, pencils, pens, markers, folders, and other essential school supplies, all donated by local supporters. Each filled backpack has an estimated value of $45 making the Stuff the Bus school supply drive a huge success by bringing in about $25,000 worth of school supplies, according to the release.

The backpacks are being distributed by volunteers to 10 school districts in northern Kennebec, western Waldo and Somerset counties. Fifty-one local schools will be supplied with filled backpacks for students in need. For more information or to suggest someone who is in need of one of these donated backpacks, contact a local superintendant’s office.

The Stuff the Bus campaign was made possible by community members donating items at the Stuff the Bus event July 30 at the Skowhegan Wal-Mart, and supply drives held at United Way of Mid-Maine, KVCAP in Waterville and Skowhegan, Elanco, Skowhegan Walmart, and the Alfond Youth Center.

Donated supplies and funds for the purchase of the backpacks were provided by community members and businesses such as Edward Jones, Elanco, Molina Health Care, People’s United Bank, Stage Presence for Dancers, The Bank of Maine, V.A.S.T., Waterville Walmart, Winslow Community Federal Credit Union. L.L. Bean donated 100 of the backpacks.