COMMUNITY SUPPORT – The Women’s Outreach Centre is currently in need of school supplies and backpacks for their Tools For Schools program which is experiencing higher than normal demand. Fund Development Office at Women’s Outreach

Tools for School counts on community support

  • Aug. 26, 2015 6:59 p.m.

A project between the Women’s Outreach Centre and United Way of Central Alberta which aims to collect and distribute schools supplies for families across Central Alberta who could not afford their own materials is seeing higher than average demand this year.

Last year the Tools for School program gave out almost 1,600 backpacks filled with basic schools supplies for children in Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Darcy Ouellet, fund development office at Women’s Outreach, said he expects to see the program far surpass the 1,600 mark this fall and edge close to 2,000 with backpacks currently flying off the shelves.

Ouellet worries the program will not have enough backpacks and supplies to fill the needs of children in the area this year and has invited the community to help support the program by donating high demand items.

“Backpacks are our biggest expense,” explained Ouellet. “Last year we cleaned out Walmart and Staples from everything they had at the end of September because that’s when the really good deals are.

“We thought we were doing pretty well but last week we ran out of backpacks,” he said.

Following their dwindled supply of backpacks, Ouellet put out a call to the community via social media and saw a number of local businesses step forward to help gather over 200 backpacks for the program.

“I wasn’t expecting these huge donations, but the community has heard we were in need and they really stepped up to help out,” he said.

“Prior to these big few gifts we were extremely low on donations this year,” he said. “The demand is higher, but the donations are lower due to the economy we are in.”

Ouellet explained depending on the make of the backpack they could range anywhere from $10 to $80, meaning on average it will cost $60 to $70 per child for school supplies.

He added they often see families with anywhere from one up to 10 children.

“It can be like Christmastime in a way – if you have a family living paycheque to paycheque and who has three or four children, where do you come up with an extra $300 for school supplies?

“So something is going to suffer – they’re going to get further behind on paying for things and it just takes them longer to catch up, so if we can help them then that’s what we’re here for,” he said.

The Tools for School program provides four different types of backpacks geared towards students in pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten, Grades 1-5, 6-9, and 10-12 with each age group containing different items in accordance with school supply lists.

While backpacks are currently in the highest demand, other items include binders, crayons, dividers, glue sticks, markers, pencil cases, scissors, highlights, duo tangs, rulers, pencils, pens, coil scribblers, loose leaf paper and erasers.

Ouellet explained Tools for Schools is one of the programs not in the Outreach Centre’s budget and one they do not receive funding for.

“So if we don’t get donations, we don’t have backpacks to hand out.”

Those wishing to donate backpacks or funds to purchase supplies can do so at both Walmart locations, Staples locations, the Outreach Centre, as well as online at or you may donate $5 via cell phone by texting ‘OUTREACH” to 45678.

Currently the Women’s Outreach Centre only accepts new, unused items.

Just Posted

Central Alberta dancers ‘shimmy’ for a great cause

Shimmy Mob will take place in more than 169 locations all over the world

Johnny 2 Fingers and the Deformities play The Vat April 27th

Moose Jaw band is on a 39-day national tour from Quebec City to Vancouver

Council highlights

Council to fund Rimbey Boys and Girls Club for $15,000

WATCH: Second annual Our Best To You Craft Sale on now

Red Deerians can expect over 150 artisans, makers and designers

Red Deer RCMP look for James Holley on warrants

Holley is believed to be in possession of firearms

WATCH: ‘Battle of the Badges’ event raises money for Humboldt Broncos

Red Deerians get together at charity hockey tournament April 20th at Servus Arena

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Crowe was a coach on the American team from 1983 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2006

5 things to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada

Number of illegal border crossings are up this year – as RCMP, military, politicians try to combat

Producer, DJ Avicii found dead at 28

Swedish-born artist Tim Bergling, was found in Muscat, Oman

Most Read