“Every child deserves to go to school on an equal playing field,” said Kelly Christie, director of community supports at Woolwich Community Services. This is the rationale behind WCS’ eleventh annual backpack program, which will once again provide school supplies to members of Woolwich Township who need them most.
WCS, which provides help and services to people of low income, has been organizing the program since 2003.“One of the recurring things we’re used to hearing is, going back to school is very expensive. The need for the backpack and school supplies – that’s where we came in,” said Christie.
“We’ve been blessed that the community has always stepped up to the plate. We started in good faith and it has been carried on by the community members.”
A survey of Canadian teachers and educators carried out for Staples Canada, released this week, found that 35 per cent of students in Canada will not start the 2013-2014 school year with basic supplies. Sixty-seven per cent of those students cite financial strains, and 59 per cent cite cost of supplies, as prohibitive factors.
This year, WCS hopes to collect 200 backpacks, plus any type of school supply – pencils, combination locks, scissors, markers, crayons, you name it. They also welcome financial contributions, and are seeking donations from service clubs and church groups.
“We already have cheques in from Kiwanis and Woolwich Lions,” noted Christie.
Money will be used to fund the purchase of new backpacks and supplies. “If the child comes in with their teacher’s request list, we will accommodate them, so we do have what they need to go back to school,” she added.
The WCS also requests that all contributions to the backpack program are new.
“If donated items come in, we will then put them in the thrift shop and sell them if they’re usable, but we only put out new products,” said Christie.
While the program was launched as a strictly charitable endeavor, Christie has also found it placing her finger unexpectedly on the zeitgeist of kid culture.
“I can’t wait to see – I never know which characters are popular,” she chuckled. “I’m surprised that Strawberry Shortcake came back last year. Tinkerbell is still big. We buy anything that’s not violent – we won’t buy any of the aggressive boys’ items.”
Donations can be made at the Woolwich Community Services office (73 Arthur St. S., Elmira), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., by August 16.