Louise McEwan poses with the Skool-Aid window display at Hall's Basics recently. The charity helps students and families who can't afford school supplies. The goal is to give all students a good start to the school year. Donations are always welcomed.

Skool-Aid helps get students off on the right foot

Skool-Aid is currently accepting donations to help financially struggling kids purchase the school supplies they need.

It can cost nearly $150 for a Grade 7 student to buy all the supplies they need to be successful in school, and some families can’t afford the expense.

Enter Skool-Aid – a charitable program that helps students buy their school supplies when their parents can’t spare the extra money. The program is currently accepting donations to supply students for the 2015-2016 school year.

Louise McEwan, a volunteer with the organization, says the costs for school supplies are steadily on the rise, and Skool-Aid does what it can to help.

“The average cost for a Grade 1 student, if they come into Hall’s Basics and get everything at retail price, would be over $77,” she said. “For Grade 7, it can be over $140. There are new items that add to the cost as well. Some classes are required to buy USB sticks, or earbud headphones – things they didn’t need a few years ago.”

One of the main goals of the year-round fundraiser is to help underprivileged students start school on equal footing with their peers.

“The program does more than give students the supplies,” said McEwan. “The feedback that we have been getting is that it really helps the kids feel included. They start out the school year with what their peers have and that does a lot to boost their self esteem, confidence, and we hope, make them excited about learning. We believe that education can lift people out of poverty.”

Skool-Aid outfitted 167 students from Rossland through to Fruitvale for the 2015-2014 school year, but McEwan says there are always a couple more that need it.

“We get pretty good coverage with referrals from schools, parents, and the Family and Individual Resource Centre (FAIR) and more,” she said. “I am sure there are always going to be kids who needs this help, but fall through the cracks.

“We are just trying to do our best.”

The help also allows parents to spend the money elsewhere, on things like shoes and clothes for fast-growing students.

For month of April, the program has been raising awareness for fundraising needs with a window display at Hall’s Basics, the local business that supports Skool-Aid.

“I can’t say enough about Hall’s Basics,” said McEwan. “Their basement turns into an assembly line of school supplies. They are so fantastic. We do the fundraising, but Hall’s does the packaging and the delivery to the schools. Because of them, our costs are 30 to 35 per cent below retail.”

One unique aspect of the Skool-Aid program is the lack of operating costs. All the fundraising is done by volunteers, and McEwan says every dollar raised goes to the supplies.

“The money goes directly to the students, which I think is wonderful,” she said. “I would say every penny in donations goes to the kids.”

For more information, or to donate to Skool-Aid, contact McEwan at louisemcewan@shaw.ca

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