“Every child has a backpack – every backpack has a child.”
This is the cornerstone philosophy behind the United Way’s annual Backpack Program. The United Way wants school to be a positive experience for all children, regardless of their economic situation. By providing school supplies to low income children, we are providing the tools needed to start off the year on the right foot.
Teachers have remarked to us how this program has taken the bullying out of their classroom (children are often targeted because they don’t have a backpack or school supplies).
How does it work?
The United Way creates backpacks on two factors; gender and grade level.
Four grade levels of backpacks are created to ensure that the right supplies are provided for the right age group.
How does the United Way find the children?
The United Way creates the list of children through the following two approaches – Community (families apply) and agencies.
The community list is created directly from the families themselves. Either through word of mouth or the media, families learn of the program and call 211 to register.
There is also a slip included in all Bruce and Grey Ontario Works (OW) June and July 1st cheques indicating they could call 211 to register to receive a backpack.
Families are directed to call 211 to register as individuals for a backpack as 211 can also direct them to other services in the region. Utilizing the 211 service also frees up United Way staff to focus on fulfilling needs.
With the tremendous support from the communities of Bruce and Grey Counties the United Way has always met the needs of all the children.
In addition to providing the intake for the Backpack Program, 211 provides additional information and referrals to other agencies and organizations that the families can access for support.
Local agencies review their client lists and send the United Way a bulk request for supplies. The agencies provide numbers based on gender and grade level.
An agency caseworker might request 8 primary boys, 4 primary girls, 5 intermediate boys and 7 intermediate girls, etc. This approach enables the United Way to plan for large requests and creates a distribution system to get the backpacks to the children.
The United Way is passionate about respecting the individual’s privacy with this program.
Making A Difference
2020 marks the 16th anniversary for our Backpack Program and to date we have packed 25,000 backpacks! In 2019, thanks to the generosity of our donors, we distributed 2,308 backpacks to children right across Bruce and Grey Counties.
This year, due to the economical effects of Covid-19,we expect this need to be even greater and we are asking for your help to meet the higher demand for the 2020 / 2021 school year.
There are two ways that you can help make our program a success and at the same time touch the lives of children in need.
1. You may give a financial gift.
When you donate to our Backpack Program, your gift will go to work immediately and will insure that children start the new school year off on the right foot with all the supplies they need. With your support, all funds will stay local and lives will be changed.
We would certainly appreciate your support at this time. To donate to the program through Canada Helps, please visit www.DonateToday.ca or give us a call at 519-376-1560. Donations may also be mailed to us at: United Way of Bruce Grey, 380 9th Street East, Owen Sound, ON N4K 1P1. Thank you in advance for your financial gift.
2. You may donate school supplies.
We would appreciate the donation of quality school supplies (see our Backpack Program Wish List below). To take part, you may drop off supplies at Heritage Place Mall in Owen Sound and look for the white picket fence just in front of the shoe store (CSO) and down the hall from Leon’s. Donations may be dropped off until August 10th. This summer, we will be packing our backpacks in a vacant store at the Mall and will be checking on the supplies throughout the day.