Rien Finch hands out backpacks Aug. 1 at the South End Neighborhood Association Festival’s National Night Out event. Submitted photo

WATERVILLE — As a result of the the South End Neighborhood Association Festival’s National Night Out event, held Aug. 1, funds were raised for 200 L.L. Bean backpacks, filled with essential school supplies, to be distributed to students in the Waterville School System.

When Rien Finch heard that the annual backpack giveaway was in danger of not happening, he knew he had to do something.

Quinn Morris standing with Tommy the Terrier, the mascot for Thomas College. Submitted photo

“The data is clear, kids that start the school year with the supplies they need to succeed are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to feel connected to their community. In my opinion, this program is vital to the festival and many families rely on the help,” Finch said, according to a news release from Samantha Burdick, director of marketing for Hight Family of Dealerships.

With support from the community and sponsors, $16,000 was raised to ensure that local students start the new academic year equipped for success.

The backpack giveaway took place at the festival, an annual event held for the National Night Out, which aims to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community.

“We are thrilled to have hosted such a successful event and to have been able to provide much-needed support to the students of Waterville School System,” said Finch. “The generous contributions from our sponsors have made it possible to create 200 backpacks filled with school supplies, giving these young minds the tools they need to excel in their education.”

The backpack program was made possible this year thanks to the support of over a dozen community businesses, organizations and families, such as Beth Israel Congregation, KVCAP, Colby Center for Arts and Humanities, Colby Museum of Art, LL Bean, Robins Nest, Front and Main, Maine State Credit Union, Waterville Sunrise Rotary, Sunrise Bagel, Incense and Peppermint, Prince Foundation, Waterville Creates!, FAME, and the Malon and Hubbard families.


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