The countdown is on as the final days of summer approach those who are returning to school in September. During the month of August, Woolwich Community Services is busy with its annual backpack program to collect school-related items for children in need.
There are two streams, one in Woolwich Township and the other in Wellesley, that are encouraging communities to buy a new backpack, lunch bag, or donate cash that will help students succeed in school.
Getting kids ready to return to class can get expensive, but can also cause stress for families who don’t necessarily have the time to prepare, says Tina Reed, coordinator of community services at WCS.
“It links them to other programs that are available that they may not know about through our agency and alleviates a bit of stress for the families when it comes to school,” she said.
That’s why the initiative aims to assist families in the townships by providing backpacks and grade-appropriate supplies. Each year WCS sets a goal to fill at least 125 backpacks that are made available to low-income families with school-aged children from JK through to Grade 12.
“We never know how many [backpacks], it’s as per the need of the community – the community is growing so we usually get a few more each year,” said Reed.
Last year the backpack program was able to help nearly 121 students and 44 families in total. Woolwich Youth Centre helper and student Micah Alagos says it’s important that kids have the right tools to strive in their education.
“They give school supplies so that they can finish school and get a job.”
The Elmira-based campaign started off as a youth centre-driven program in 2003. Since then, it has gained success in the local community. The generosity of those living in the surrounding townships is what makes the program possible each year, notes Reed.
It’s more than just giving back, she said, but it helps the community grow together by creating opportunities for children to do their best at school with all the essential supplies they need.
The likes of water bottles, math sets, backpacks and lunch bags are what the WCS program most needs.
Donations can be dropped off at the Youth Centre at the Woolwich Memorial Centre Tuesday to Friday between 1 to 10 p.m. by August 19. A second drop-off location is offered at WCS office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day.
From August 28-30 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., students and youth can visit WCS to choose a backpack and fill it up with supplies of their choice from the mock-store created by the backpack program. This allows kids to be excited over funky erasers or flashy backpacks and choose what suits them best, said Reed.
Those in the Wellesley area will able to pick out a backpack and supplies on August 29 between 1 and 8 p.m. at 157 David St.