With summer now in full swing, the United Way KFL&A is looking ahead to the upcoming school year. Going back to school comes with lots of excitement and anticipation; it can also be an anxious and stressful time for many families with a low income as they do their best to set their children up for success, the organization noted.
The Backpack Program is coordinated through the United Way KFL&A, with donations from individuals, community businesses, and organizations. According to a release from the United Way, the program distributes backpacks and school supplies to ensure that families and children have all they need for a successful school year.
In 2022, thanks to the community’s generosity and support, 1,400 children and youth started the school year with supplies and backpacks, according to the United Way.
“We are so thankful to United Way and our community for the backpacks filled with school supplies for children headed back to school,” said a representative from Kingston Interval House. “We immediately handed them out and one mom was very teary-eyed when getting hers and so grateful.”
It is estimated that for basic supplies (a backpack, lunch bag, binders, pens, pencils, and a calculator), the cost per student ranges from $200 to $300 for school supplies, according to the release. With rising costs and inflation, needs are expected to be high again this year.
“Costs are high and we know that one in four Canadians are using or will need to use charitable services over the next year for basic necessities,” said Bhavana Varma, President and CEO of United Way KFL&A. “We are asking our community to come together to help children and youth. It may be as simple as picking up a few extra pieces when you do your own shopping, a financial donation or the donation of supplies and backpacks. However you choose to give, you will be helping so many children and families start the school year off right.”
Once supplies are collected, the United Way said that volunteers will start packing backpacks in mid-August for distribution through agencies and schools before the new school year begins.
According to the agency, the most needed school supplies include backpacks, lunch bags, pens, pencils, rulers, math sets, markers, crayons, scientific calculators and pencil cases. If possible, gender-neutral colours are encouraged.
For a complete list of recommended items by age group, or to donate monetarily, community members can visit www.unitedwaykfla.ca/backpackprogram
Items can be dropped off at:
- the United Way office at 417 Bagot Street, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until the end of August 2023.
- the Cataraqui Centre during mall business hours. Look for the bin in the centre court until Friday, Aug. 25, 2023.
- the Kingston Frontenacs Shop at 1 The Tragically Hip Way, Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until the end of August 2023.