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Tools for Schools needs donations to assist Red Deer and Central Alberta students

Partnership between The Outreach Centre and United Way Central Alberta
The Outreach Centre is now accepting backpacks and school supplies for the Tools for School program. (Photo from Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Facebook)

Last year over 1,100 students across Central Alberta received backpacks and school supplies thanks to donations to the Tools For Schools program.

The Outreach Centre says the demand could be even bigger this year.

“Last year, economically, we weren’t in a good place. This year it seems like even more people are struggling because of the interest rates going up and inflation so we don’t really know how that will impact demand,” said Ian Wheeliker, outreach executive director.

The Outreach Centre collects donations for Tools for School in partnership with United Way Central Alberta.

The program provides free backpacks and supplies to students in kindergarten to Grade 12 whose families have limited resources.

Wheeliker said it’s important to remind the community that donations are now being accepted so students will be prepared for the 2023-24 school year.

“This entire program is 100 per cent supported by the community. We don’t get any funding for it. We really need the community to rally and support the kids.”


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He said donating to Tools for Schools is a tangible way for community members to help break down one of the barriers that keeps students from being successful in school.

“Every student deserves an equal start, and this program allows the community to show our students how valued they are and how important their education is.”

The rush to apply for backpacks starts this week because some schools start classes next week, he added.

Supplies that come in this month will also help support new students who arrive during the year, and students who need extra supplies as the school year continues.


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Donations of backpacks and school supplies can be dropped off at The Outreach Centre (4101 – 54th Ave.) or the United Way Central Alberta (100 – 4828 53rd St.).

Cash and gift cards are also accepted. To learn about the program, view the list of needed school supplies, or to make a monetary donation online, visit The Outreach Centre website.

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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