Donations are being accepted at the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries and at Staples in Maple Ridge for backpaks and school supplies for those children in need. (Contributed)

Donations are being accepted at the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries and at Staples in Maple Ridge for backpaks and school supplies for those children in need. (Contributed)

Salvation Army, Staples making sure all SD42 children ready for back-to-school

Donations to buy backpacks and school supplies for students in need in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Starting the school year right is important.

Right about now a lot of parents will find themselves stuck in long lineups with baskets packed with pens, pencils, rulers, notebooks and everything their children will need for the first day back at school.

But not everyone can afford the price of a new bag, not to mention the school supplies to fill it.

That is why the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries along with Staples and the Friends In Need Food Bank have banded together to make sure all children in the community will be properly equipped come the first day of school.

Donations are being accepted to purchase new backpacks filled with school supplies for those in need in the community.

Last year the Salvation Army distributed around 420 backpacks, all fully loaded with school supplies, and they are looking to do about the same again this year.

“When you think the price of a backpack with all the supplies could be anywhere from $75 to $100, it’s a big project for sure. Especially for those kids who are expected to have things like scientific calculators and stuff like that,” said executive director Darrell Pilgrim.

Staples in Maple Ridge raised more than $22,000 for the back-to-school program last year and is aiming to raise $25,000 this year.

“Goal number one is to get backpacks in the kids hands and we are talking about name brand, JanSport, premium backpacks,” said general manager Darcy Smith.

Smith and his team at Staples will donate backpacks filled with school supplies to the school district. Last year they made contact with individual schools in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge and were able to deliver the backpacks in time for the beginning of the school year.

“(We) showed up with a van fully-loaded with backpacks that we were able to share with the teachers,” said Smith.

“Obviously the teachers know who the children are in need,” he said.

They will also be providing backpacks for the Salvation Army’s Backpack Distribution Fair, a private event held at the end of August for children in need and their families. The carnival will have live entertainment, free food and treats for the children, games and a bouncy castle. They will also be able to pick out a backpack and get a free back-to-school hair cut.

Backpack donations can be made in-store at Staples at 20050 Lougheed Hwy., where props have been set up explaining where the money goes.

“For instance a $50 donation, that would equal a fully packed backpack. Now if you were to go on the sales floor and purchase it you would be spending quite a bit more than $50,” said Smith.

“So what we recommend, as with anything, is it always makes sense to give dollars because we are able to stretch those dollars a lot further than just buying the product,” he explained.

Donations are also being accepted at the Salvation Army’s new office at 11948 227 Street, unit D.

Anyone requiring assistance should call the Salvation Army at 604-463-8296 to register. The registration deadline is Aug. 24.

“But if people come to us after the deadline, even if they miss the fair, we’re still going to help them, of course,” said Pilgrim.

Pilgrim says that although they have done a lot of fundraising already and feel like they are in good shape, “there is always more need.”

“We feel like it is very important for every child to start off the school year with a feeling that they can succeed,” he said.

“And if they start off the first day of school and they don’t even have the right supplies, they’re already behind and we don’t want anybody to feel that way,” continued Pilgrim adding that the fair is an opportunity for the community to show that every child in the school district has value.

“They are all important.”