It’s that time of year when parents and children in St. Albert begin counting down the days to the inevitable return to the classroom.
The lazy days of summer are winding down and many shoppers are now focused on purchasing all the needed items that line shelves in the back-to-school aisles so their kids are ready to begin a new year of learning.
For some needy families in the city, however, the looming school year brings a sense of dread as parents struggle to cover the costs of educational essentials and cope with the additional strain on already tight wallets.
That struggle can have a significant impact on children in lower-income families who often fear they won’t fit in at school and worry that a lack of new school supplies will draw unwanted attention.
Students who lack confidence are likely to have a tougher time mastering the subjects and skills taught in the classroom, according to numerous studies on the connection between self-esteem and learning.
Since education is a major key in the fight against poverty, it’s critical that all students get off to the best start possible when they head back to school.
This month, St. Albertans have the opportunity to help eliminate a hurdle to academic achievement and provide a morale boost to kids in need by supporting a community project.
For the fifth straight year, the St. Albert Food Bank and Community Village, in a bid to equip kindergarten to Grade 12 students with the equipment they need for educational success, has launched its Tools for School program in partnership with the United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and Staples.
Under the program, residents are encouraged to donate items including lined paper, markers, crayons and glue that will be put into backpacks for students in need.
One of the organizers said currently, there’s a shortage of geometry sets, binders and white correction fluid as the food bank prepares to distribute the backpacks at an Aug. 18 gathering.
According to food bank statistics, the need for a school supply drive continues to grow in St. Albert. When the program was introduced in 2014, as Alberta’s economy was in decline, 91 backpacks were distributed. That number has steadily increased each year, with a total of 186 given out in 2017. The organization anticipates about 200 kids will benefit from this summer’s campaign.
That’s a large group of students – the future leaders of the community – who will be able to walk into classrooms with greater self-confidence and focus on acquiring the knowledge they need to be successful, contributing members of society.
Purchasing a few extra school supplies to donate to those less fortunate may seem like a small act of kindness, but it’s one that can have far-reaching effects on our community. Helping out the youngest members of St. Albert sends a strong message of caring that is sure to motivate students, not only as they pursue their education but as they forge career paths in the future.
Let’s make it clear that all St. Albert residents are supporting them by ensuring those backpacks are filled to overflowing when they are handed out by the food bank next week.