Back to school is an exciting time for children.
The new school year can mean new outfits, shoes, bags and school supplies.
But for some families it can be a stressful time, especially when they can’t afford to give their children the necessities for the upcoming school year.
Employees at Staples in Maple Ridge have spent the entire month of August fundraising for back-to-school kits for children in need.
In fact the Friends in Need Food Bank will be handing out kits to 250 children of clients this week thanks to the fundraising efforts by Staples.
So far employees have raised $10,000 through fun events like hot dog days, guess how many jelly beans are in the jar, balloon toss and a car wash.
“We do the purchase through the store and we are able to sharpen the pencil a little bit more, more so than folks just coming in off the street,” explained Staples general manager Darcy Smith about being able to give charitable organizations bigger discounts than the public.
“Right now I know the food bank was $2000 in total. So, they were able to fundraise about $800 and then through our fundraising and just being able to sharpen the pencil a little bit our fundraising put forward about $1200,” explained Smith adding that the regular price for the items would have been around $2600.
“It is a combination of fundraising and getting the best possible deal,” he said.
Smith is working with the Friends In Need Food Bank, The Salvation Army Maple Ridge Ministry and School District 42.
“If they notice that a child can’t afford to pay for their school supplies that year, they get them covered,” said Smith who ran a similar fundraiser at the Staples location in Kelowna last year.
The back-to-school kits vary depending on the Grade level of the child.
For example, children in Grades 4 to 6 will receive a box of pencil crayons, a ruler, lined paper, eraser, pack of pencils, two exercise books, a blue pen, black pen, red pen, a mechanical pencil, five duo-tangs of different colours and miscellaneous items.
But Mary Robson, executive director of the Friends In Need Food Bank, said their biggest numbers are children from kindergarten to Grade 3.
In addition to pencils and paper the children in this age group will receive lunch boxes and backpacks.
Robson is also grateful to Smith and the staff at Staples for helping them with the needs of their senior students in Grades 8 to 12 because the kits become more expensive with graft paper and duo-tangs.
One thing Robson would like to do differently this year is asking families if there is anything in addition they can purchase in regards to school supplies.
“Then I can go to Darcy and say I have a family who needs a calculator,” she said.
Donations can still be made at Staples. A donation of $5 will give a child in need a fully loaded pencil case, a donation of $15 will give them a fully loaded lunch kit and a donation of $50 will give them a fully loaded backpack.
There will also be a final hot dog sale to wrap up the fundraising efforts. A recommended donation of $10 will get you a hot dog, beverage and bag of chips.
But, any donation will be helpful said Smith.
The hot dog sale takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 30 at Staples, 20050 Lougheed Hwy. in Maple Ridge.