Donations for the back-to-school program will be accepted at both, Salvation Army as well as Staples. (Amelia Norrie/Special to The News)

Donations for the back-to-school program will be accepted at both, Salvation Army as well as Staples. (Amelia Norrie/Special to The News)

Ridge Meadows Salvation Army gearing up for their annual back-to-school program

Organization extends deadline until Aug. 29

Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministry’s back-to-school program is gearing up to deliver backpacks and is asking for people to register.

The back-to-school backpack program distributes backpacks filled with school supplies, to kids in need before the start of the school year. This year, the deadline to register for the backpacks has been extended from Aug. 15, to Aug. 29, and the organization is prepared to serve close to 400 students, said Amelia Norrie, the fundraising coordinator.

“We expect demand to increase a little every year and we are always prepared for that,” she said.

So far, the organization has received 200 registrations for the back-to-school drive.

A social media post from the organization initially notified community of the deadline and read, “Our program is open to any one in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows in need of assistance this coming school year. Register today at http://ow.ly/ai3c50FJMr6.”

Norrie however said that they realized that people would still need time as they will still be planning depending on what happens with schools.

“We are anticipating more registrations as school start date approaches. That’s why we decided to extend the deadline,” she said.

The Salvation Army will also be distributing some laptops this year.

“We recognize that some students still don’t have access to laptops and we want to help those students get access to it. We won’t be distributing 70 laptops like last year, but pretty close to that number,” said Norrie.

The organization has partnered once again with Staples, for collecting donations. Anyone shopping at Staples can donate to the salvation army when checking out at the till.

“We accept physical donations. But the best way is to either donate online, or when shopping at Staples. That way, everyone gets the same things,” said Norrie.

“Donations from the community are what keep our community services programs going. Without them we wouldn’t be able to provide school lunches, back to school backpacks, summer camp programs, emergency hampers, baby and toddler necessities, or Christmas hampers,” she added.

Norie noted that over the last 19 months, they have seen an outpouring of generosity from community donors.

“But we have also seen increase in demand for our services. With job insecurity and fluctuating COVID cases, it’s been hard for so many in our communities. But we have been here the whole time, coming alongside those who need us, to meet them where they’re at, and to help them with any basic needs they required,” she added.

In April of 2020, the demand for the organization’s bagged lunch program tripled in size, but as of September 2020, the numbers resumed to normal at 125 per day from Sept. 2020 through June 2021, across 14 schools in Ridge Meadows.

“We want our community to know that they can access our food security programs with zero stigma. A full stomach helps with a healthy mind, and our goal is to feed every child in Ridge Meadows that feels they need it,” Norrie said.

This year, the Ridge Meadows Salvation Army will be hosting their Dignity Breakfast on Nov. 24, at a new location – The SKY Hangar.

“We are very excited for this new location, and its increased capacity. We were unable to properly celebrate our 30th anniversary in Maple Ridge last year due to COVID, so this year’s theme of the Dignity Breakfast is “30 for 30” where we’re hoping to raise $30,000!!” she said.

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