Hundreds flock to Adopt-A-Block party

HOULTON, Maine — Rebecca Morin of Houlton spent more than an hour on Saturday morning, watching as two of her children jumped around in the bounce house at Adopt-A-Block of Aroostook’s annual Adopt A Block Party on Aug. 18.

The tenth annual fete at the Military Street Baptist Church recognized the milestone while also celebrating the group’s effort to give back to the community. Hundreds of people turned out for the daylong party, which included food, prizes, demonstrations and the free distribution of clothing, fresh produce and school supplies.

Morin said that she has come to the event four times since moving to Houlton five years ago with her four children. She heard about the group from a friend and immediately registered to have her children receive a free backpack filled with school supplies, something that she has continued to do each year. She said that she is “so grateful” that the group continues to do something “so wonderful.”

“As as single mother working a full-time job, I really have to stretch my pennies,” she said. “And going to school now isn’t like it was when I was in elementary school 40 years ago. I remember going to school with just a notebook and pencils. Now, each classroom teacher distributes lists of supplies that the kids need, and the lists seem to grow each year. My son is entering high school and he needs more things, and they are starting to get more expensive. This helps me out so much.”

During the day long event, the Houlton Police and Fire departments were on hand to let attendees see and sit in their apparatus. Car seat safety demonstrations were presented by Cheryl Quint,  nurse and child passenger safety technician.

Safety demonstrations were available to parents. Children had their faces painted and enjoyed food and free haircuts that were donated by community businesses.

Tammy Goetsch, executive director of the Aroostook Adopt-A-Block Association, said that she was thrilled with the success of the event. She said Monday that the organization distributed 303 backpacks, along with 20 haircuts, 2,000 pounds of produce and another 1,500 pounds of food. Seventy-five families also received clothing. An estimated 800 people attended the event.

Vendors included the American Red Cross and the Aroostook County Action Program, and the organization had partnerships with Walmart in Houlton and the United Way of Aroostook. Five hundred books also were distributed thanks to a partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers.

Jessica Carpenter, 46, said that her daughter, Heather, 11, was thrilled that she got a back to school haircut.

“We have been so busy this summer that it is hanging all over her face,” she said, laughing. “This is the first year we’ve been and I can’t believe all of these free services. This is wonderful.”

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