The Tools for Schools program is working hard to prepare for their busiest time of year that is marked with the beginning of the school year.
This program provides backpacks that are filled with the basic school supplies that children need to start school with such as exercise books, HB pencils, binders, scissors, loose-leaf paper and geometry sets.
Last year Tools for Schools in Red Deer gave out 1,258 backpacks for kids in need in Central Alberta.
This year they are anticipating a 15% increase in families needing assistance bringing the total number of backpacks needed to nearly 1,450.
Tools for Schools is a United Way branded program but the Women’s Outreach Society in Red Deer that facilitates it.
“It is very unique that two non-profits partner together to run a program,” said Kristin Mountain, resource development associate. “We are quite excited that we can partner up and link our resources together to make sure that it is successful.
“We help Women’s Outreach and they help us to make sure that this is a great partnership.”
Tools for Schools started with the United Way but it became such a big program that the United Way needed help facilitating it. They found the Women’s Outreach and it was deemed a good match.
“We had the client base,” said Darcy Ouellet, fund development officer with the Women’s Outreach Society. “We knew which clients were coming in to get them.”
Mountain added the United Way had connections with businesses and was familiar with fundraising in the community, so it is a strong partnership.
With the two non-profits working together they are now able to offer a more convenient process because women can fill out an application form at Women’s Outreach and receive a backpack at the same location.
The program is available to anyone who lives in Central Alberta that has a child who is going to school from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
“Basically they come in, fill out a little paperwork and then we will get them a backpack,” said Ouellet. “By the time they are done writing out the application we will have the backpack packed.”
Donations for Tools for Schools are accepted throughout the year and not just at the beginning of the school year. Likewise, backpacks continue to be assembled year-round.
“Any time of the year if someone needs a backpack they can come in and we will take care of them,” said Ouellet.
Donations of school supplies can be dropped off at a number of locations across Red Deer including Parkland Mall, Bower Place, Staples, Walmart, Superstore, Sleep Country and Zellers.
Currently they have a quarter of what they require for the year packed already but they still require thousands of exercise books, duo-tangs, HB pencils, erasers and blue pens.
Women in need of assistance can apply at Central Alberta Women’s Outreach Society located at 4101–54 Ave. in Red Deer.
For more information for Tools For Schools call 403-347-2480 or 403-343-3900.