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Adopt-a-Block of Aroostook hosts backpack giveaway for back to school

HOULTON, Maine — Cars pulled into Military Street Baptist Church on Saturday morning Aug. 29, with parents looking to receive backpacks full of school supplies for their children as the new school year approaches.

The backpack giveaway event, hosted by Adopt-a-Block of Aroostook, is held every year to give school supplies to families, but this year the event had to be changed to accommodate social distancing guidelines. It was done as a drive-thru service, where parents pre-registered and received their backpacks from their cars.

Despite the change, the event retained a festive spirit usually found at the giveaway, with music playing and clowns present to keep the event fun for families and children.

“Even though we’re doing something like this with a drive-thru, I think it’s so important for us as the adults to try to find ways to make opportunities for children to have something normal,” said Tammy Goetsch, the director of Adopt-a-Block of Aroostook. “I just love that. So we’ve got to be creative in our thinking.”

The backpacks of school supplies were obtained at an earlier event held at the beginning of August at the Houlton Walmart, where customers were encouraged to give money to help provide the school materials. Lori Hovey, another member of Adopt-a-Block who helped organize the event, said that 300 backpacks were available to be given away.

“We had 273 registered, so that left us 27 to give to people who did not register online,” she explained. “Once those 27 are gone, we’re going to put them on a wait list, and hopefully we get some more school supplies.”

In addition to the backpacks, giveaways were also done for produce such as Maine-grown potatoes and milk, provided by Friends of Aroostook.

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