As kids across the southeast prepare for going back to school, parents are setting out to make sure they have all the items they need once they get into the classroom.
"It's about the busiest two weeks at our centre," says Jo-Anne Dalton, Executive Director of Steinbach Family Resource Centre. "Lots of people inquiring about school supplies for their kids. After the school supply drive, we have a lot of applications coming in."
Again this year, Dalton says they are expecting to help a large number of families. "We filled over 250 backpacks last year and we're on track to see at least that number again this year. It's an issue that happens year after year. When you tally up, they need indoor shoes, outdoor shoes, and backpacks, When you get into the older grades some of the supplies are quite expensive, like binders, geometry sets, and scientific calculators, all the stuff adds up."
A helpful tip says Dalton is to keep a keen eye out for ways to save money. "Watch for good deals. Check out sales. I really recommend that if you can, if you have the ability to, end-of-year clearance is a really great time to stock up for next year. Yes, it's early to think about next year, but looking at it that way can really help."
If a household has school supplies but no need for them, Steinbach Family Resource will accept gently used items. "We can really use good, high-quality backpacks," says Dalton. " A backpack, if it's a good product, it can last a few years. If you have a child that has graduated and got a new backpack last year, we'll take it. Same thing with notebooks that only have a few pages used. Used items are amazing for us and we can definitely take them."
Dalton says schools have worked hard to make sure things don't change too drastically year after year. "We found the lists stay relatively similar year after year, which is nice so parents can plan ahead. Also, working with the schools has been really great. Some of the schools in our region do a fee over actual supplies and those fees can be much more doable for parents because then they don't have to worry about the shopping or transportation. For families who can't do the fees, the schools work with us really well so that we can drop off items that we have in higher supply to help offset some of the costs."
A growing area in schools is technology and Dalton says it's something parents and the schools are well aware of. "It's a tricky balance, especially in the younger years because we know that increased technology and screen time isn't great for brain development. We want kids to be active and outside. Technology is a reality in the world we live in, so we do encourage a balance. Luckily, most of the schools supply the needed technology but there are challenges for families who need to help their kids with schoolwork at home and they don't have access to laptops, iPads, or even the internet. There are public organizations that can help but it can really be a challenge. In our experience, schools have been really supportive of families and helping them get what they need when it comes to technology use in their homes."
For families looking for more information on applications or have questions, Dalton says it's very easy to reach out. "Email us or go to the website then use the contact form, Steinbach Family Resource Centre – Just another WordPress site (steinbachfrc.ca). We do require proof of income for this program because there is such high demand."
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