The Backpack Program: from JK to YAY!

Jacob graduated from high school last week. He has set his sights on college and has been accepted to a trades program.

For the past 13 years, Jacob’s mom has accessed the United Way’s Backpack Program to supply Jacob with the school supplies he needed to thrive.

Every year, I’d plan to buy the school supplies myself, but my job as a hairdresser just didn’t pay enough, and the pandemic really messed up my income. A car repair, Jacob’s growth spurts, sports fees…all added up, and The Backpack Program really helped me out.” Jacob’s mom.

With the support of caring people like you, children, like Jacob can start the school year with dignity and the tools they need to succeed.

You might not know how important you are to this program. Parents know that getting school supplies from the United Way means they are able to buy the coats, shoes, and clothes kids need for the school year. It means parents can put gas in the car for another trip to the hospital or to work. It means the kids won’t get bullied at school.

Everything is so expensive now. The cost of The Backpack Program has doubled since it started it.

I’m sure you are feeling it too.

This is why I’m doubly grateful for whatever you can give to the Backpack Campaign this year. Every single gift makes such a difference.

Personally, I remember going back to school shopping as a kid and then looking forward to taking my own children shopping. I know how it feels to pick out a cool new backpack. The smell of new notebooks and crayons; the excitement of wondering what the year would be like.

But in the lean years, I’d worry that their classmates would see they didn’t have the “cool” pencil crayons, or that the backpack was last year’s beat-up and old backpack.  But I made sure when the teacher said, “Pull out your notebooks,” they didn’t look around hoping someone would share some paper or a pencil with them.

Over the lifetime of the program, the United Way estimates that parents have received over $2.2 million dollars in savings that they could invest in other back-to-school costs, such as shoes and clothing.

You can be the difference for a local kid, like Jacob.

Last year, 2,361 backpacks were given out to local children from Tobermory to Ripley, Dundalk to Thornbury, and all points in between.

Thirty-nine agencies were involved in getting backpacks to their children, it takes the whole community to get this need met. And we can’t do it without you!

Francesca Dobbyn
Executive Director

P.S. The children and families in our community need your support, please donate today using the envelope provided or by visiting