Connie McGonigal, family and community ministries with The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries packs a backpack with back-to-school items for one of 106 children who have yet to pick up their supplies for the coming school year. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)                                Connie McGonigal, family and community ministries with The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries packs a backpack with back-to-school items for one of 106 children who have yet to pick up their supplies for the coming school year. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Connie McGonigal, family and community ministries with The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries packs a backpack with back-to-school items for one of 106 children who have yet to pick up their supplies for the coming school year. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS) Connie McGonigal, family and community ministries with The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries packs a backpack with back-to-school items for one of 106 children who have yet to pick up their supplies for the coming school year. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

More children dependent on Salvation Army for back-to-school

There was a 62 per cent increase in the number of children who needed back-to-school supplies from the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries.

More children in the school district are dependent on the Salvation Army for their back-to-school supplies.

Last year the local organization helped out 235 children in the school district with their back-to-school distribution program. But this year there were more than 380 children registered, a 62 per cent increase.

“I don’t know if it is because there is more need. I don’t know if it’s just because we got the message out there better. I don’t know,” said executive director of the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries Darrell Pilgrim.

Last Thursday the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries held a festival to hand out the supplies in the parking lot of the Maple Ridge Baptist Church.

In the past the backpacks were prepacked with the child’s name on it for the family to pick up.

This year was more of a celebration.

Families registered ahead of time and then the children were able to pick out their backpacks and then line up to receive their supplies.

“Everyone got a backpack and they got the recommended basic supplies to start the school year. Pencils papers, pens, binders, duotangs, rulers, crayons,” said Pilgrim.

There were eight different agencies present to let participants know about the programs they offer. There were also eight hair dressers on hand providing free hair cuts for the upcoming school year.

Bateson’s Martial Arts hosted a bouncy castle, Staples provided the school supplies, free hot dogs were provided by Thrifty Foods, Envision Finanicial provided popcorn, the Emerald Pig Theatrical Society did face painting, a dunk tank and tents and tables were provided by the Maple Ridge Downtown Business Improvement Association and the City’s Parks department.

“We ran out of supplies at the end,” said organizer Connie McGonigal with the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, who said they are still distributing the packed back packs to those who couldn’t make it to the fair.

“We did have to go and purchase more supplies for the remaining families. So we are still looking for monetary donations to help to cover the costs of all the extra supplies,” she said.

To donate contact McGonigal at 604-463-8296, ext. 112.

For more information go to www.saridgemeadows.com.