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United Way Alberta Northwest collecting donations via the Tools for School program

United Way Alberta Northwest has kicked off its Tools for School campaign, collecting school supplies for youth and children in need.

Executive Director Jamie Craig says the program’s purpose is to help youth in Grande Prairie, Slave Lake, High Prairie, High Level, Fairview and Peace River.

“Tools for School has been operating in this region since 2013. The purpose of it is to give underprivileged youth and children in grades K-12 backpacks and supplies in the entire northwest region of the province. We deliver anywhere between 850 to 1200 backpacks and supplies in our region annually.”

The 2022 edition of the campaign is in the early stages as of now, but Craig is encouraged at how things have gone to this point.

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“We’ve just started getting requests in. If anyone needs to request backpacks and supplies we usually do that through our agencies in Grande Prairie, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, the YMCA program, Family Community Support Services and also through school liaisons. Usually, the campaign ramps up around August,” she explains.

“You may notice some till donation requests via the Staples store in Grande Prairie. I’d just like people to know that if they do donate to the program, 100 per cent of their donation or donations go to the Tools for School initiative. The Manager Joanne has been working with us for years. She orders bulk amounts of supplies from all of those till asks, so it really does go a long way.”

2022 has presented people with challenges financially as costs continue to rise but meanwhile, there is also a bigger need for school supplies in the northwest part of the province.

“I think it goes both ways. We’re a little worried about the lack of donations coming through the tills but at the same time, we understand that finances are tight for many people,” says Craig “That means that we’re really relying on some businesses to help us out this year. Even if you have say 30 staff at your company and two of them bring supplies, that all adds up.”

The non-profit organization would still like to contribute close to 1,000 backpacks and supplies if they can.

“Just based on the requests for donations we’ve received so far, it’s already close to double the amount that we received at this time last year. In addition to businesses and agencies, we’re also working with organizations in the areas seeking donations just to try and fulfill that goal,” she says.

Volunteer signup will be posted in the next couple of weeks. The backpack assembly is set to take place on August 24th and 25th at the Centre 2000. The signup will be posted on the organization’s Facebook page. About 30 to 40 volunteers are needed to help the process go smoothly.

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