The number of families plagued by the growing cost of education in Greater Trail is on the rise.
Demand for the Skool-Aid initiative—that helps low-income families buy school supplies—has increased by 20 per cent this year, up to 140 students from 112.
Although the increase is substantial, said Louise McEwan, a Catholic community volunteer who recently finished working on the third annual campaign to aid local students, she could not explain why.
There definitely is financial need in many areas—with demand up for food bank services—and the increase reflected that, McEwan said.
“But I’m not really an expert on what’s going on in terms of people’s economic situation locally, but it just seems to me that the prices of everything are going up,” McEwan said. “Even when I go to the grocery store and I’m buying the same amount, I seem to be spending more money. Plus a lot of kids who participate in this program are also registered for our lunch programs too.”
The Skool-Aid initiative helps low-income families that need to buy school supplies in Fruitvale Elementary School, Glenmerry Elementary School, Webster Elementary School, Saint Michael’s School, J. L. Crowe Secondary and Rossland Secondary School, based on written referrals from school officials.
McEwan was not the only one who noticed the increase this year. When asked how students responded to the program, Carolyn Catalano, principal of Webster Elementary School, said “it means the world to them.
“They’ve arrived and they’ve got all the supplies like everybody else and this year’s supplies were just beautiful,” she continued. “Hall’s did an exceptional job so the kids felt pride and excitement—like every kid should coming back to school. I honestly just think it comes down to awareness of a really great program.”
The Skool-Aid program works closely with Hall’s Basics to ensure local students are aided with supplies from Kindergarten to Grade 12, serving families all the way from Rossland to Fruitvale. It supplies students with most things, with the exception of gym clothes and sneakers.
“Hall’s Basics does an absolutely amazing job of putting all the orders together and they’ll take them to the school or Salvation Army family services,” said McEwan. “They (deliver) in mid-to-late August, but we still get referrals during the first week of school.”
Skool-Aid raised roughly $8,000 this year, up from $6,800 last year. In addition, Skool-aid received $1,000 from Teck Trail Operations, $700 Le Roi Community Foundation, $1,000 from BC Hydro Employees Community Services Fund and $500 J.L. Crowe’s 1971 grad class.
The Skool-Aid program is expected to run again next year.
For more information contact McEwan at firstname.lastname@example.org.