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5-year-old collects gift bags for homeless children

As part of a home school project, Liliana Tripp is helping brighten the lives of needy kids.

OXFORD, Maine — There are dozens of happy children living in homeless shelters in rural Western Maine thanks to the generosity of a 5-year-old girl from Oxford.

As part of a homeschool project about compassion, the first-grader collected dozens of items donated from the community, including toothpaste, toys, snacks, and games for gift bags for homeless children. 

Friday, Liliana and her parents delivered 60 gift bags to the Rumford Group Homes, which runs family shelters in Rumford and Norway. The bags are being distributed as welcome gifts for children in the nonprofit's shelters in Rumford and Norway and being housed in hotels in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

Last fall, the first-grader helped collect 500 pounds of supplies for her local food pantry. Her family is now considering starting a nonprofit for future projects to better the community.

"We tried to think of things to take their mind off of their situation a little bit as best we could," Laura McCann Trip, Liliana's Mom said.

"The little stuff that nobody thinks of that makes it feel less scary for children," Melissa McEntee, the Executive Director of the Rumford Group homes said.