Stephen King Helps Elementary School Students Publish Books They've Written with $6.5K Donation
Dozens of aspiring writers are one step closer to seeing their dreams come true thanks to author Stephen King, who pitched in to help them become published authors.
King, 73, has never forgotten his Maine roots — and when he noticed a local elementary school raising money on Kickstarter to publish two books students had written as part of an after-school writing program, he stepped in to make it happen, Farwell Elementary School Principal Amanda Winslow told CNN.
"The kids talk in the hallway about this, they talk to me about it, they talk to their teachers about what they're doing, and it's really wonderful to see this much effort and support put behind their writing," Winslow, who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, told ABC affiliate WMTW.
The $6,500 donation came through the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, a private nonprofit the Carrie author and his wife launched in 1986 to help give back to local Maine communities, NBC affiliate WCSH reported.
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"It's very exciting to see that Stephen King is actually noticing us and wanting to help out," seventh-grader Lilly Baulie told the outlet.
The funds will cover the cost of publishing two novels written by the Farwell students with help from Gary Savage, an author, volunteer and director of the school's Author Studies Program.
Though the program has been in existence for several years, its focus shifted in March when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Once it was moved online, the students were tasked with taking Savage's existing novel Fletcher McKenzie and the Passage to Whole and reworking it into an entirely new tale that incorporates their personal experiences in the coronavirus pandemic, WCSH reported.
The result was not just one book, but a sequel, too, each reportedly about 300 pages long.
"I've been in [the program] for the last four years, and only the people in my school have ever gotten to read what I've written," fifth-grader Hailey LaBrecque told WMTW. "It's really cool to think that [now], pretty much anyone can read anything you write."
Added fifth-grader Liam Martin: "I learned that I could write a lot better than I thought."
Savage told WCSH that the books are expected to be printed and published in April, and that the students will be credited as contributing authors.
King, whose newest novel Later is expected to hit shelves on March 2, was born and raised in Maine, and still lives in his beloved home state. A spokesperson for the author did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.