The United Way Alberta Northwest is gearing up for the 2020 Tools for School Campaign, but those in the organization know that it will be a little different than years past. Executive Director Jamie Craig says due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the centerpiece Stuff-A-Bus event will have to comply with provincial health rules.
She adds that they’re still in the process of figuring out the logistics when it comes to accepting donations of school supplies for students in need.
“We usually just have one or two people loading the bus and whoever it is dropping it off, so, we’ll have some protocols in place but this is new to us too, so we are just trying to figure out the best way to go about this.”
Despite a slow start in 2019, the program ended up exceeding expectations, as 732 backpacks stuffed with school supplies were eventually distributed to families in need across the Grande Prairie area. Craig says it wasn’t until the actual event ended that the community came out in droves to push them over the finish line. She adds the post-program push made them increase their request for supplies.
“We had one individual drop off $4,000 in Staples gift certificates… we ended up having some leftovers so we can use them again this year,” she says. “We don’t want to take away from those parents who are trying to purchase supplies, but, we cleaned [Staples] out… so we’re hoping this year they will order us a bit more.”
Craig says they’re upping the goal to 1,000 backpacks in 2020, and says the need for a helping hand may be greater than ever because of the circumstances the community is facing.
“We can’t just not do this because of COVID-19. Families more, now than ever because of some of the financial hardships of COVID-19, are going to need help with supplies this year.”
The 2020 Tools for School Stuff-A-Bus event is set to take place on August 25th in the Staples parking lot.