Item and monetary contributions sought to help those in need through Smart Starts for Students

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — With the start of school less than a month away, many students in the region are in need of classroom supplies beyond the reach of their families. To help provide needed basic school supplies, so all students in the area’s five districts can get a “Smart Start” for the new academic year, Penquis’ Smart Starts for Students is once again collecting items and monetary contributions.

bu-backpacks-dc-po-32Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom

    SMART STARTS FOR STUDENTS — School supplies and monetary contributions are once again being collected through Penquis’ Smart Starts for Students program to benefit needy pupils in the region’s five districts.


    Last year Smart Starts for Students provided support to 167 families or 360 students between RSU 68, SAD 4, 41 and 46 and Union 60, and the need is anticipated to be just as great in 2013. This year those registered for the program will receive a starter pack of supplies, including items such as backpacks, pens, pencils, erasers, colored pencils, markers, highlighters, glue sticks and bottles, notebooks, composition books, filler paper, three-ring binders and pocket folders. The received school supplies enable recipients to begin the school year feeling prepared and ready to learn.
    Every year Penquis relies on the support of the community to help pupils in need through Smart Starts for Students, through the contributions and fundraisers. Project Coordinator Sheree Brown of Penquis said a car wash for the program is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 9 in the parking lot at A.E. Robinson on West Main Street in Dover-Foxcroft from noon to 4:30 p.m.
    The car wash is per donation, a  rate of $5 for car and $7 for van or SUV is suggested. Those stopping by to fill their tanks can have their gas pumped or windshields washed for a donation — no matter how big or small. For more information on the Aug. 9 car wash, call Brown at 974-2440.


    Brown said another fundraiser involves Al’s Pizza of Skowhegan, which took home the People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Maine Whoopie Pie Festival in Dover-Foxcroft in June. A portion of the $3 award-winning chocolate and vanilla treats purchases through Penquis will go toward the Smart Starts for Students program. Orders can be placed with Brown, again at 974-2440, through Aug. 16 with the desserts available for pickup at the Penquis office — 50 North Street — on Aug. 20.
    Throughout the entire year, Penquis accepts inkjet cartridges — but not toner — and old cell phones with chargers to benefit Smarts Starts for Students as well as helping the environment by recycling these items.
“We actually get quite a bit of money from cell phones,” Brown said. Penquis receives a deposit when turning in cartridges and cell phones to the recycling agency, with these funds all going Smart Starts for Students.
    High-quality, remanufactured inkjet cartridges can be purchased at www.planetgreenrecycle.com/penquis with 15 percent of proceeds benefiting the students in need. Savings of up to 70 percent can be found by buying the remanufactured inkjets compared to the original brands.
    “There are several locations with drop-off boxes, and we will do a sort of challenge,” Brown said about seeing which of the five drop-off boxes can result in the greatest amount of school supplies and/or monetary donations — the program has no administrative costs so all proceeds go right to the students. Boxes are located at Penquis’ office at North Street, directly across the street from the Dover-Foxcroft Post Office, as well as at the Piscataquis Observer at 12 East Main Street in Dover-Foxcroft. Drop-off boxes can also be found at Camden National Bank’s Dover-Foxcroft, Greenville and Milo locations, 1083 West Main Street, 20 Lily Bay Road and 53 Main Street respectively.
    Financial contributions can be made through several methods, including mailed in with an accompanying form, online via credit card at www.penquis.org and then through the donate to Smart Starts for Students option or by calling weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1-800-215-4942, extension 3574.
    Brown said Pat’s Pizza supported Smarts Starts for Students on Monday, Aug. 5, as the Dover-Foxcroft business donated 10 percent of all food sales, including takeout orders, to the annual school supply drive. Pat’s Pizza also collected items on Aug. 5 for Smart Starts for Students.
    She also mentioned the Dover-Foxcroft Kiwanis, Three Rivers Kiwanis of Milo/Brownville and the Dexter Sunrise are annual supporters of Smart Starts for Students, and she thanked all who have contributed.

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