Darcy Ouellet

Darcy Ouellet

School supplies program running on empty

The SOS has gone out for more backpacks and school supplies for Tools for School.

The SOS has gone out for more backpacks and school supplies for Tools for School.

The program, operated by Central Alberta Women’s Outreach and United Way of Central Alberta, collects and distributes school supplies to families in need across Central Alberta who have children in kindergarten to Grade 12.

Darcy Ouelett, fund development officer with Women’s Outreach, said as of Tuesday the program only had about 250 backpacks filled with supplies left to hand out.

“Everything we have is packed so we probably have enough for another 300 kids, then we’re out of supplies,” Ouelett said.

“We are actually as of now out of empty backpacks.”

He said the demand is higher this summer with just over 1,000 backpacks given out so far compared to about 650 at this time last year.

“We’ve seen some stuff get packed and it’s right outside the door an hour later.”

Tools For School operates all year and almost 1,600 backpacks were handed out last year.

He said 90 per cent are given in preparation for September and typically the busiest time is over the next three weeks.

“We have reached out to everybody. Basically we need help. Unfortunately, this is the nature of the economic times for us. Demand is up and donations are down.”

He said the cost of going back to school is similar to Christmas for families.

“If someone has four children, that’s $400, that’s half of somebody’s rent sometimes.”

Tools For School operates entirely through donations.

Donation bins for school supplies are located at both Walmarts in Red Deer, both Staples, United Way of Central Alberta, Alberta Treasury Branch near Bower Place, and Women’s Outreach.

For more information, go to www.womensoutreach.ca.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com