School supply fundraiser returns

Okotoks: Programs helps students feel confident

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 11:28 am

Okotoks Staples gerneral manager Steve Roulston and Staples President Steve Matyas stand in one of many aisles filled with school supplies. As the back to school season drawns near, the Staples for Students program will be accepting donations to help students get supplies they need.
Okotoks Staples gerneral manager Steve Roulston and Staples President Steve Matyas stand in one of many aisles filled with school supplies. As the back to school season drawns near, the Staples for Students program will be accepting donations to help students get supplies they need.
Roxanne Blackwell/OWW

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It may seem like students were just let out for summer vacation, but it isn’t too early to be thinking about what they’ll need when they head back to school this fall.

The yearly school supply trip can cause a financial strain on lower income families, but fortunately for those who are having a bit of trouble making ends meet, the Okotoks Family Resource Centre offers assistance to make sure students head back to school with everything they need.

“Back to school in September is always an expensive time for families,” said Resource Centre c-ordinator Sherri Mullen. “There are families who are certainly just trying to get by and when these extra expensive months come up it can be a real financial struggle.”

For families that meet the income requirements, the resource centre will provide them with Staples gift cards to help purchase supplies.

The back to school supply program is supported by Staples for Students, an in-house fundraising drive that takes place in Staples stores across the country over the summer.

Staples president Steve Matyas began the program in Ottawa eight years ago after hearing about a school that was in desperate need of new supplies for its students.

“When I read about that, I spoke to one of our stores who are big in the community and I said ‘why don’t we try something to see if we can't raise funds for the local school that I just read about,’” Matyas said. “It spread sort of naturally as some of the other stores found out about it and here we are today donating well over a $1 million to needy children across the country, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

The Staples for Students donation drive begins this week on July 26, and residents are encouraged to donate both supplies and money at any Staples store. Since its inception, the program has donated more than $8 million to the local groups and schools it partners with.

Donations can also be made directly to the Okotoks Family Resource Centre where a tax receipt can be provided.

Due to the flood, Mullen said donations were down a bit last year, but they were still able to help 67 youths get new supplies, although generally they are able to help well over 100 students in the Foothills each year.

“It just shows a lot of community support to families that are doing their best to make ends meet,” Mullen said. “And people have been really generous in responding to the requests at Staples which is wonderful.”

Matyas said he isn’t surprised that people have made such an effort to help out, as it’s an issue people can relate to.

“I think when it comes to kids, people get it, and it resonates and they want to feel like they're making a difference,” he said. “The big idea behind the program is really how do we make sure that as many children as possible are able to go back to school, hold their heads up high, and have the necessary school supplies in order to get a great education and not feel that they're wanting for anything.”


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