Students ‘tooled’ for school

Programs to collect schools supplies will help ensure children are not returning to school with empty backpacks.

Programs to collect schools supplies will help ensure children are not returning to school with empty backpacks.

Tools for Schools has already given away about 150 backpacks to students who started class at year-round schools.

A total of 1,350 are expected to be in students hands before remaining schools open this fall in Central Alberta.

“Last year we gave out 1,285 backpacks filled with school supplies,” said Darcy Ouellet, fund development officer with Central Alberta Women’s Outreach, which runs Tools for Schools on behalf of the United Way of Central Alberta.

Other partners in the program are MNP, Staples and Peavey Mart.

Tools for Schools is run strictly by donation from individuals and businesses. Collection bins for school supplies are set up at Red Deer’s three Walmarts, both Staples locations, Costco and the United Way.

Ouellet said so far donations have been down this summer possibly due to people directing their donations to flood victims in Southern Alberta.

But advertising for Tools for Schools is just starting, he added.

“I anticipate we won’t have any problem with the donations this year.”

A recent survey by Staples showed 35 per cent of Canadian students will begin school this year without the necessary school supplies.

Tools for Schools supplies backpacks stuffed with 70 per cent of what kindergarten to Grade 12 students need.

Depending on the grade, supplies would cost families $85 to $150 to purchase.

“It is everything they need to get going.”

Letters about Tools For Schools went home with students in June.

“They already know when and where they can pick it up. They just have to come in and fill out the paper work and we’ll give them a backpack.”

For more information about Tools for Schools call Central Alberta Women’s Outreach at 403-347-2480.

Red Deer Telus Community Ambassadors have also put together 120 backpacks with school supplies for Kits for Kids program funded by Telus. Kits will go to students attending school on the north side of Red Deer and will be distributed by Telus ambassadors and Family and Community Support Services.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com