Last week, staff from The Outreach Centre and United Way met to discuss the urgent need for backpacks and school supply donations for their partnership program, Tools for School.

Each year, backpacks filled with school supplies for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students are handed out not just to city residents, but also to those in the small towns and rural communities surrounding Red Deer. In 2021, over 900 students across central Alberta were supplied with backpacks and school supplies. This year the demand has doubled, and The Outreach Centre staff expect to see a record number of students requiring backpacks.

Donations of backpacks and school supplies are urgently needed to meet the needs of the community. According to The Outreach Centre’s Executive Director Ian Wheeliker, “We are running very short on supplies. The number of applicants has greatly increased this year, and everyday that number is growing. There is a significant gap between the number of students requiring backpacks and the amount of supplies that we have available.”

“These donations are crucial for families with limited resources who can’t afford the necessary supplies their children need for school”, says Chelsea O’Donoghue, Chief Executive Officer of United Way Central Alberta. “When you donate to a program like Tools for School, you are helping to pave the way to success for these kids. They start the school year off on the right foot.”

Donations of backpacks and school supplies can be dropped off at The Outreach Centre or United Way. To read more about the program, view the list of needed school supplies, or to make a monetary donation online, visit The Outreach Centre website.