School has started and the executive director of the Steinbach Family Resource Centre is doing her best to make sure each child has what they need to succeed this school year.
Vicki Olatundun says their centre was the recipient of the record-breaking $10,117.97 raised by 1,569 contributors through the Steinbach Staples school supplies drive fundraiser. Olatundun notes there is an assessment called the low-income cutoff (LICO) and if a family is within that bracket, or below, they qualify to receive school supplies for their children.
"A parent comes in and they give us the [school supplies] list and then we ask them to provide their source of income," explains Olatundun. "The government itself has provided a low-income cutoff and we apply that to parents. What I found this year is that many parents fell below that, way below. Some families are dealing with $13,000 a year. The test was easy. Actually, we didn't come across any family that it didn't fit, believe it or not, because there were some families that fell really far below, but we were able to help."
She notes for a family with two parents and two children the cutoff would be around the $23,000/year income mark. Olatundun notes there are a variety of reasons why a family would need assistance.
"There are families that experience tragedy, either a relationship breakup or the death of a spouse, or the disability of a caregiver and then that automatically throws that family underneath their former level. Then there are also families that come in from other countries who have not been able to find employment just yet, who find themselves in that lower income bracket."
Olatundun adds, so far, they have been able to help send over 200 children back to school prepared to learn. She notes they have received over 100 thank you letters from the recipient families, thanking everyone in the community for their generosity and for making a difference for their children.
She says, while their centre concentrates on ages zero to five, this is the one area where they assist children all the way up to Grade 12.