Summer is starting to wind down and retailers are rolling out back-to-school deals. But not everyone can afford school supplies. What happens when struggling families simply can’t provide the essentials?
Moncton, N.B., is one of many Salvation Army centres across Canada supporting low-income and struggling families by providing donated school supplies and backpacks.
“Last year, we served 900 students,” says Dean Pritchett, Community Ministries Coordinator in Moncton. “This includes school supplies as outlined by the school system, new backpacks and vouchers to our thrift stores where clothes and footwear can be purchased.”
In partnership with two other local agencies, Head Start and the Food Depot, The Salvation Army is ensuring that all children start the school season on the same foot. The Salvation Army packs the school supplies and distributes the backpacks, Head Start looks after registration and the Food Depot provides transportation and storage space.
“Children from low-income families often have fear about going to school and fitting in,” says Pritchett. “Our program ensures they start school no different than anyone else. It boosts self-esteem and every child has equal opportunity to succeed once inside the school walls.”
Backpacks are filled with supplies such as geometry sets, calculators, rulers, exercise books, highlighters, pens and pencils.
“Once the backpacks are filled they are placed in a large room where each child has the opportunity to choose the backpack with a theme that suits their personality best,” says Pritchett. “Their faces light up when they see hundreds of backpacks. It’s like Christmas for them.
“The children wear the backpacks everywhere. It’s precious.”