London News & Search
Pencils, crayons, binders, backpacks.
Parents and children gearing up for back-to-school are checking their lists of school supplies as the first day back draws closer.
For many in the London area, unable to afford what’s needed, that can be a problem, but thousands of ready-to-go backpacks are headed their way.
The United Way of London and Middlesex, the Thames Valley Education Foundation and Supplies for Students teamed up to raise money and collect supplies and backpacks so no child going back to school feels left out.
Last year, the three groups put together 6,000 backpacks for students, a number organizers believe they’ll match again, with school starting Sept. 5.
“Twenty per cent of London youths are in poverty,” said Kristina Bell, the United Way’s donor experience specialist. “Backpacks are an extra cost that is not afforded to many families.”
Helped by partners such as sports teams, London Life and the London police, the three groups behind the backpack drive are filling them with necessities such as pens, pencils, calculators and binders for students in kindergarten through Grade 12.
Bell said they’ve even received extra perks such as locker decorations for high school students in the past.
“They get basically everything,” Bell said.
In 2001, two women started Supplies for Students, which has grown significantly since then. Bell said the United Way joined in about eight years ago and helped it become more streamlined by partnering with school principals and teachers. Bell said that has helped them better predict what is needed.
“Parents can self-identify, or teachers and principals can identify kids who might need extra support,” Bell said.
Lauren Goldsack, 12, has been volunteering with the program since age six.
This year, instead of receiving gifts on her birthday, she asked people for backpacks filled with supplies so she could donate them to the cause.
Volunteers began stuffing backpacks around mid-August.
Parents are able to pick up the packs before the school year begins.
London News & Search