As the current school year draws to a close, Trail’s Skool-Aid program is already thinking about next September’s back-to-school needs.
The Skool-Aid program is a Catholic based volunteer-run effort to provide much needed school supplies to the area’s low-income families.
The ambitious program is the brainchild of Trail’s Catholic community volunteer Louise McEwan.
Last August, when it became apparent that Trail’s food banks were running short, she worried about how these families would meet the back-to-school expenses.
“We have all been a student on the first day of school or we have all been a parent wondering how to pay for all the supplies,” she said.
McEwan explained her Skool-Aid idea occurred “spontaneously.”
Initially she approached the Catholic Church parish of St Anthony/St Francis for advice. Father Gabriel, Sister Norma and herself decided that a donation could be given through the Catholic Church, deeming it subject to an income tax receipt.
The Catholic community partnered with various referral agencies to assess the number and ages of children in need of this service.
Sanctuary, FAIR (Trail’s Family and Individual Resource Society) and the Salvation Army acted as confidential partners.
At the onset, 48 children from ages eight to 12 were registered into the program. However, right up to the first day of school, the number continued to grow.
Eventually, 70 children from kindergarten to Grade 12 received their required school supplies.
This year, Skool-Aid is fundraising throughout the month of May.
Monetary donations only are being requested. This will allow the project more time and improve efficiency to determine and meet the needs of the children for the fall.
Last year, $5000 was generously donated in a span of two months. This year the LeRoi Community Foundation has already donated $1,000 to the program.
Hall’s Basics in downtown Trail, was instrumental to the success of Skool-Aid, said McEwan.
“Last summer, Hall’s Basics gave us special discounts on the supplies. Their staff donated countless hours boxing up and delivering the supplies, up to and including the first day of school.”
This year, Hall’s Basics will continue participation in the project. A special discount structure is being worked out to ensure maximum benefit for the donated dollars.
Staff is looking forward to volunteering time to box up the essential supplies, and to deliver them to the recipients.
“Last year it was exciting, knowing that the community pulled together,” said Tara De Jong, the manager at Hall’s Basics.
“Without them, this program wouldn’t have happened”.
Monetary donations can be mailed or dropped off at Our Lady of Perpetual Health at 2012 Third Avenue, Trail or at McEwan Harrison Law Corporation at 1432 Bay Avenue in Trail.
Make cheques payable to St Francis/St Anthony Parish and clearly mark them for Skool-Aid.