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The Sanford Backpack Program is gearing up for its eighth annual Chocolate Benefit, scheduled for 6 pm Saturday, May 18, at Memorial Gym. This is the program’s largest fundraiser of the year and supports about one-half of the program’s operating budget.

Fifteen local chocolatiers will create decadent, bite-sized chocolate treats for attendees and compete for awards. Chocolatiers include: Sarah’s Table; Lambert Foundations; Jen’s Delightful Sweets; Jon Bettis; Church of Latter-day Saints; the Sanford Middle School PTA; Don Twombley Photography; Frannie’s Mini Donuts; Gotta Be Frank; Sanford Springvale YMCA; Nosh2Go; MCS PTA; Partners Bank; Lynne Signore and Friends and Lakeside Sweets & Treats. Our Chocolatier Sponsor, Kennebunk Savings Bank, will be announcing winners of the awards, including a People’s Choice Award.

In addition to chocolate, this event will include live music by local band The Wintery Mix, raffle prizes such as a snowblower from Eldredge Lumber, a massive gardening basket from the Carl J Lamb School PTA, a “staycation” from 4Maine Realty, and much more.

The Sanford Backpack Program, an initiative of Strategies for a Stronger Sanford, fights student food insecurity in Sanford by sending food-filled bags home with students, providing fresh food distributions, and running a new “Spart-Mart” shopping-style food pantry at Sanford High School each week of the school year. The program serves about 400 students a week and sends home over 250,000 pounds of food annually.

In addition, since COVID-19, the program has provided community-based food distributions which, thanks to funding from one of our big community champions, Atlantic Federal Credit Union, will continue this summer on Thursdays each week at the Willard School and at the High School.

The program, which has been operating in Sanford for about 15 years, was started at Sanford Junior High School by the School Nurse at the time, Anne Garnsey, and expanded to also include Carl J. Lamb School when Guidance Counselor Cathleen Mulvey recognized the need of students there. A small core group of school staff and volunteers later helped formalize the program and expand it to include all Sanford schools. Today, the program has two part-time staff members, an advisory board and a cadre of dedicated boots-on-the-ground volunteers.

Event sponsors and longtime program supporters, Richard and Pamela Lolley, are joined by many other local business and family sponsors to make this event a success and ensure the program’s ability to continue its work in Sanford. You can still join in the fun. Tickets are available online:

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