WATERVILLE — The bags contained blankets, soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, shampoo and snacks.

They were left along Main Street in downtown Waterville on Monday with notes inside that said, “If you’re cold, this gift is for you. Always remember, someone cares.”

Who left them there apparently is a mystery.

Both City Manager Michael Roy and police Chief Joseph Massey said they are not aware of the source.

But the large, clear plastic Ziploc bags, left leaning against utility poles near The Concourse, are similar to those left in other cities, including Portland, Bangor and Boston.

A few days after Thanksgiving in Waterville, someone placed winter clothing on hangers and hung it from lighted trees in Castonguay Square, next to City Hall downtown. Attached to the clothes, which included jackets, were Christmas cards that said, “Pay it forward.”

Contacted Monday, Betty Palmer, executive director of the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville, said she thinks the packages on sidewalks are called “Blessing Bags,” but she does not know who has been leaving them.

“I think there’s more than one group putting them out,” she said.

Palmer said she appreciates that the community is reaching out to people in that way, but she wishes the people or groups doing it would contact the homeless shelter and agree to include a card bearing the shelter’s contact information. The shelter can help those who are homeless with more long-term assistance in finding housing and jobs and gaining stability, she said.

“We do showers and meals-to-go, and not everyone knows that,” Palmer said.

The care packages being left on the streets is a “wonderful first step,” she said.

“That is going to help them for a little while,” she said. “We’ll get them clothes, housing and help with whatever other needs they may have … medical needs.”

The Facebook page “Blessing Bags for the Homeless” is dedicated to raising awareness of giving back — a phenomenon that apparently is spreading around the country in the form of people anonymously leaving care packages for those less fortunate.

Massey said the packages in Waterville did not create a concern for police.

“Unless we became aware of information more specific to our area that was concerning regarding this type of activity, I don’t see this as an issue for the police to react to at this time.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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