Back to school is only days away. For some children it’s an exciting time, but for others it is sad and embarrassing. That’s where The Salvation Army can help.
For families facing financial burdens, back-to-school shopping is a tug-of-war between pens and notebooks versus rent and food. “Families are still struggling,” says Terry Harney, Markham, Ontario’s Salvation Army community and family services coordinator. “When people are making every effort to put food on the table, even one backpack is a strain on their finances.”
Across Canada many Salvation Army centres are providing new backpacks to children in need. Stuffed with school essentials, such as paper, pencils, crayons and calculators, kids are given equal opportunity to succeed. They can walk into school confidently on the first day with supplies and a backpack like everyone else.
Harney and other service providers note the growing need for these simple tools that many of us take for granted. In Markham last year, more than 35 backpacks were donated to local children and youth. This year Harney expects 70 backpacks to be donated. And in B.C. the goal is to support 5,000 kids with backpacks—more than doubling the goal from last year.
While backpacks restore a sense of dignity to young people, so do trendy clothes. With more than 300 nationally and locally operated thrift stores from coast to coast, The Salvation Army operates one of Canada’s largest national clothing recycling operations. Here families can buy gently-used stylish and trendy must-have items at budget friendly prices—a valuable service for people who are squeezed financially.
Says Harney: “At The Salvation Army we believe every child deserves a fresh start to a successful school year.”
What began in Canada in 1882 with about 30 members, The Salvation Army has since grown to become Canada’s largest non-governmental direct provider of social services. In 2011, more than 1.8 million vulnerable people received hope and support from The Salvation Army at their greatest point of need.
How can I donate?
• Donate at www.SalvationArmy.ca
• Call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)
• Donations can be mailed to The Salvation Army, 2 Overlea Blvd, Toronto, ON M4H 1P4, or dropped off at your local Salvation Army unit.