FARMINGTON — The United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, Farmington Rotary, and Big Lots are partnering to offer backpacks stuffed with school supplies as part of the Packs for Progress program. With the new support of Big Lots, Packs for Progress, which is in its second year, promises to get even more children off to a good start.

Lisa Laflin, executive director of United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, and a Farmington Rotarian, said, “There are many families making difficult choices like paying for rent, food, fuel or medications. School supplies are often last on the list of priorities. Last year, an individual picked up a backpack for her young son at the United Way and with a big smile said, ‘oh, now I can buy milk and bread and not school supplies.’ Collaboration is key to the success of this program. It is great to be working with new corporate partner Big Lots, and Farmington Rotarians who were so generous last year.”

A total of 72 backpacks were stuffed in 2012 and this year’s goal is 100. Donations are needed. Supplies may be dropped off at Big Lots in Farmington, the United Way at 232 Broadway in Farmington, or given to any Farmington Rotarian.

On Aug.23, Big Lots will host a fun-filled day of back-to-school activities: From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. hot dogs, chips and soda will be sold to benefit the program. Starting at 1 p.m., the Farmington Fire and Police departments will be on site. The fire department staff will bring a firetruck and will talk about fire safety and hand out information and emergency contact materials. The police department will offer finger printing and have information and tips for staying safe as well. At 4 p.m., the public is invited to join Farmington Rotarians and United Way volunteers as they stuff backpacks with donated supplies.

The event is part of the United Way’s Days of Caring with opportunities to volunteer.

To reserve a backpack, call the United Way at 778-5048. Recipients must be from Franklin County, Starks, Livermore, or Livermore Falls. Backpacks can be picked up at the United Way after Aug. 26.

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