Lacombe students benefit from Tools for School campaign

Most parents with school-age children have been stocking up on supplies for almost a month already, but there are those parents

Most parents with school-age children have been stocking up on supplies for almost a month already, but there are those parents who simply can’t afford to do so.

Having the proper supplies heading back to school can make a world of difference in a child’s learning experience as well as impact their confidence heading into the school year.

For these students and their parents, for the ones who can’t afford to buy their own supplies or simply are need a helping hand, there is Tools for School.

Lacombe and District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) aims to help these families through the Tools for School program by collecting and distributing the proper school supplies to them.

Volunteer services coordinator with FCSS, Jan Pocock, said the team of volunteers have been simply knee-deep in backpacks getting them ready for the school year.

“It’s such a positive energy in that room. These people are working to fill backpacks knowing that they are creating opportunities and equality for these children to start a new year,” said Pocock.

Through the months of July and August jars for collecting money were located at local grocery stores and drug stores. The money from these jars goes towards the Tools for School campaign.

With all the fees associated with sending a child to school, back to school supplies are often just one extra cost that low-income families simply can’t add to their list.

“Every child needs the same supplies, but the backpacks are built based on their needs, school and grade.”

She said it is important that the backpacks are not built to look alike, but that they are unique in some way. Children receiving these backpacks don’t want to be singled out for having a Tools for School backpack, they just want to fit in.

“So that little Grade 1 student might get a special Spiderman backpack just like any one of his friends may have another character.”

Items most needed include binders and backpacks and other smaller items like glue sticks, scissors, markers, crayons, pencils and erasers. Items for donation must be newly purchased.

Today, Aug. 29, while people proceed with their day or head off to work, a group of volunteers will be filling the backpacks to disperse to families.

These backpacks will then be available for pickup to eligible families before the start of school on Aug. 30-31.

In order for a family to qualify for the program they are required to provide a copy of their tax summary when they apply at FCSS. This is to ensure that the families and children who need back packs most receive them.

Many communities run their own Tools for School programs so that all children can return, or start, school feeling equal to their peers. These programs are highly successful and many have been running in excess of 10 years in many locations.

The Tools for School program is run under the United Way umbrella and in 2012 supplied just over 9,700 backpacks to children in the province. In Lacombe and District Pocock said they distributed 84 backpacks, and this year have already filled 80.

“Donations, of course, are accepted year-round. We would definitely like more for breathing room, but we always seem to be able to make ends meet. School supplies just aren’t cheap.”

For more information visit the FCSS web site at www.lacombefcss.net.

kpalardy@reddeerexpress.com