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WCS already gearing up for back to school

Step into any department store and you’ll know back-to-school shopping is already in full swing. Woolwich Community Services is working in the same vein, now collecting donations for their annual backpack program.

Summer student Megan Andrews is busy helping Woolwich Community Services collect supplies for their annual backpack program. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Summer student Megan Andrews is busy helping Woolwich Community Services collect supplies for their annual backpack program. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
WCS’s Kelly Christie says they’re preparing for 200 kids as they usually do. They served 160 last year, which is the norm.

“This year we’re going to have it here at our new location. We’ll have a spot down in the basement. We’ll have it set up there, which is nice because we’ve had to have it over at the church a couple times. It’s nice to have it in our facility. We’re looking forward to that. We’re also getting some people here that haven’t been here before,” Christie said.

People can drop off donations at the office until August 17. PIB Insurance and Home Hardware are some of the local businesses who will soon have donation boxes in their office to drop off items.

“Backpack supplies don’t go bad, so we’ll accept them and of course with our new facility we have storage. We can store things that way if we don’t use them. We can keep them for next year,” Christie said.

She notes they always have a few things left over, which is helpful because sometimes backpacks break the first week. Students can always come back throughout the year to replace it if that happens.

For the second time Colton Benham will be doing his program Brush-Book-Bed, which will be included as part of the three days of the backpack program. Benham started collected toothbrushes, books, and pajamas to give to local students, to help them start the school year off right, and get into a nightly routine.

It’s always a mystery how many kids to expect, usually revolving around the unknown number of Junior Kindergarten students. Christie assures they’ll have all the little princess backpacks, and whatever characters are popular this year for kids to choose from.

“What we do is we’ll set up and I’m always prepared to go shopping with the cash donations that first night if I have to replenish, or even that second night for all that matters, so that there’s always a good selection. If you come on the third day in the afternoon you’re not going to miss out on anything because we do replenish and make sure that there’s always choice there,” Christie said.

They don’t get a lot of cash donations, but they’re definitely encouraged. She says the program has always been able to carry its own. Markers, scissors, and combination lockers are some of the more costly items they don’t tend to get a lot of.

“If we have a big increase in JK then we need a lot of the little blunt scissors. If we’ve got a group graduating and going to high school that are in need of the backpack program, then we give the high school students USB keys. That can be costly and then, of course, all the lunch containers,” Christie said.

She notes it’s nice for kids to be able to come in and pick out their own supplies, rather than being handed something. They get to figure out how everything fits in their backpack and also receive lunch bags and lunch containers for the third year in a row.

“We follow through the year with the lunch crunch program. So they can come here for fresh fruits and vegetables and sandwich stuff for their lunches for the week. Then we know they’ve got the proper containers to take them in,” Christie said.

As always, the program’s importance centers around equality.

“All kids need to start off on the same foot,” Christie said.

You must be of low-income and live in Woolwich township or northern Wellesley to make use of the program. If you live elsewhere, they can refer you to the appropriate location. Parents and kids can pick up their back to school supplies at WCS from August 26-28, from 9-5.

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