By Tessa Clayton
Summer is in full swing for local students but some residents are already planning for the upcoming school year.
Those involved with the Skool-Aid program have been busy fundraising and compiling a list of students who will receive supplies this year.
“Our big push was in May and we’ve raised about $6,500, which is great,” said Louise McEwan. a Catholic community volunteer, who spearheaded the idea that provides school supplies to students from low-income families.
Last year’s program raised $5,000.
She works in conjunction with school principals, Sanctuary, Trail FAIR and the Salvation Army to identify students who will receive the supplies, purchased from Hall’s Basics at discounted prices. Hall’s also donates staff time to put together packages and distribute them to the organizations.
Last year 70 students received packages, but with the influx of extra cash this year, Skool-Aid has already committed to helping out 100 kids, possibly more.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” McEwan said about the program’s success. “The very best thing would be if we didn’t need to do this though, if there weren’t so many families with this need in our area.”
While she said personal donations were down, the amount of money received from community organizations so far is incredible.
The LeRoi Community Foundation donated $1,000 during the main fundraiser in May, but donations from the Kiwanis Club and Sisters of Colombo have also helped out.
“It’s wonderful and that’s really, really helped a lot with the fundraising, to have that support from community groups — it’s tremendous,” she said.
A group of students from J.L. Crowe, calling themselves Crowe House, donated $700 alone she added. She said she believes the group fundraises throughout the year and then donates the money to various organizations, Skool-Aid being one.
While she hasn’t personally received any feedback from families who have been helped out by the program, she said she has heard positive things from the organizations she works with.
“Last year, parents commented to the people who referred them, who got back to me and it was always that these parents are so grateful, so appreciative,” she said.
“And what we found last year too was that if there was something in the set of supplies that the parents thought the child didn’t need, they returned it to us … it was a sense of sharing all around, a pay it forward idea.”
While there’s a fair amount of crossover between referrals from school principals, the need remains high, especially at the elementary level. Currently, 30 students from Webster and 23 students from Glenmerry have already been referred to the program this year.
People can still make a donation and anything over $20 is eligible for a tax receipt.
Donations can be dropped off at Our Lady of Perpetual Health at 2012 Third Avenue or McEwan Harrison Law Corporation at 1432 Bay Avenue. Cheques are payable to St. Francis/St. Anthony Parish, clearly mark them for Skool-Aid.
For more information, contact McEwan at 250-364-1781.