While kids still have a month and a half before school starts, efforts are underway to make the expensive time of the year easier on low-income families in the townships. The Woolwich Community Services (WCS) Backpack Program is already in full swing, with letters gone out to community organizations and churches asking for donations of cash and school supplies.
WCS director of community support Kellie Christie said the letters of request went out in May and now volunteers are posting flyers on school property and within the community letting the public know WCS is now taking donations.
Other non-profit WCS programs are year-long projects. The WCS Thrift Shop, for example, sells seasonal and school clothing for children and adults. But during the last two weeks of August, the organization opens their WCS office at 73 Arthur St. in Elmira, to children going to school in the fall. They can pick out a grade-appropriate backpack and fill it with assorted school supplies.
“We give them a list of what they are going to need and they just shop for them. We don’t fill the backpack, we like the kids to do their own shopping so they can pick out their favorite pencils, rulers, notebooks and characters,” Christie explained.
Another difference between the backpack program and other WCS services is that visitors are not required to provide verification of their income, though the agency relies on an honour system to ensure supplies go only to low-income families.
While the program is called a backpack drive there are many other school supplies WCS hopes to provide; some are needed more than others. Christie noted if people are not sure what supplies to donate, cash offerings help the organization hone in on gaps in donations of specific school supplies.
“Primary scissors are something that we need and of course we go through a lot of crayons and pencil crayons. Lunch bags are also something we tend to give out to the younger groups and those are things we never seem to have enough of.”
The non-profit community organization relies heavily on community support to provide for children from low-income households. Christie said that thanks to dedicated contributors, the program has never had any problems meeting the yearly quota for backpacks provided to low-income households.