CHESTERMERE – I loved those humorous ads on TV where the father is at his utmost joyful self as he sails down the aisle of a store riding on a shopping cart knowing that summer is nearing the end and his children are going back to school. His children on the other hand sit there solemnly saddened by the thought of returning to school. Now in many cases, this is not the reality of the situation but it certainly makes for an entertaining ad. Many kids love school and the thought of spending the day with their friends, learning new things, meeting new teachers and getting together with school buddies can be quite exciting for them. Although this is true in most circumstances, the reality is in many cases there are families who really struggle to get supplies for their children in order to start the year off on the right foot. Enter Chestermere Community Services to the rescue !! Angela Normand heads up the program that helps families in need to equip their kids with school supplies for the start of the school year. In years past Angela would collect donations from the people from Chestermere, make sure every needy child got an equal amount of supplies and a backpack to begin the school year. This was a huge undertaking and Angela saw the need to make a change for this years’ Backpack for Kids drive. You see, not only do the kids need pencils and notebooks and such, but they also need a good pair of running shoes, perhaps a new outfit, and really the list could go on and on. In a recent news broadcast on the CBC they stated that on average a parent would spend $677 per child going into high school. Now we’re probably talking about purchasing a new electronic iPad or other tablet device but regardless, that is quite a sum of money from your paycheque. Angela’s figures are far more modest; she enlightening me that each child needs between $65 and $100 and she adds “this does not include a backpack or shoes. “They really need about $160 to get them started”. Obviously when you consider the whole package of buying shoes and clothes etc. and not just the school stationary supplies, there is no way one could sufficiently supply all this stuff for each child. OK so who could, well the parents of course. They each know their youngster’s sizes and needs and can go out and purchase the items with the kids; this way the kids can pick out the footwear the backpack and anything else they require.
So here is the new and improved method kicking off this program. The Chestermere Community Services are asking for either gift cards or cash donations from retailers. Each family will then receive a specific amount per child and can purchase the goods at the store(s). “It could almost be like at Christmas, only getting gifts in the summer” says Angela. The Community Services are located at the Chestermere Town Hall and the staff at the front desk will take all donations. Oh, Town Hall is located just a couple of blocks north of the Safeway which by the way is a great place to pick up a gift card from various retailers and you could drop off your donation on your way home with your groceries. For more information on how to get involved call 403-207-7060.