(Left to right) Tara DeJong

(Left to right) Tara DeJong

Skool-Aid campaign helps take bite out of school costs

This year, Skool-Aid raised $8,000, almost half received through people in the Greater Trail community.

It takes a community to raise a child, and with this mantra in hand, the Skool-Aid program is launching its fourth year in providing school supplies to Greater Trail children in low-income families.

The Skool-Aid initiative began as a Catholic based volunteer-run effort and has grown into a community supported program, supplying kids with everything from crayons to computer paper.

With the average cost of school supplies ranging from $50 to $70, not including gym strip or back pack, a return to school can incur costs that some families will struggle to pay.

This year, Skool-Aid raised $8,000, almost half received through people in the community.

“We have a loyal group of individuals who consistently give to our program,” said organizer Louise McEwan.

“It really does illustrate how this program touches people and how they want to help kids reach their potential.”

In addition, Skool-Aid received $1,000 from Teck Trail Operations; $2,000 from BC Hydro Employees Community Services Fund; $700 LeRoi Community Foundation; and $500 from the Kiwanis.

This year, the program will provide supplies to 140 students, although that number may grow by September.

“The need is quite spread out and it is quite possible we will get more requests,” she said.

“We help any child in any grade in any school in the Greater Trail area.”

And, with the school district tightening its belt to cut costs, additional supplies are popping up on back-to-school lists, further increasing costs for parents.

“There are a lot of new items on the lists now,” said Tara DeJong, retail manager of Hall’s Basics in downtown Trail.

Pencils, pens and lined paper are a given, but now computer paper, USB flash drives, playing cards and Kleenex are also itemized.

“These are all things that the schools used to provide,” she said.

Hall’s has been partnering with Skool-Aid since its inception, providing many hours to organize, assemble and deliver school supplies that meet each child’s need.

“There is a lot of prep work, but each year we are getting better at it,” said DeJong.

In the past, the school supplies were packed in boxes or bags, but this year the Salvation Army has donated new backpacks to the program.

“This is also helpful because it frees up dollars for the parents to purchase something else that is needed like a pair of running shoes,” said McEwan.

Skool-Aid assists low-income families in Fruitvale Elementary School, Glenmerry Elementary School, Webster Elementary School, St Michael’s School, J. L. Crowe Secondary and Rossland Secondary School, based on written referrals from the schools, Trail FAIR, Sanctuary, and the Salvation Army.

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

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