YMCA taking names, accepting donations for back-to-school backpacks

Eric McCarthy newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on July 10, 2014

SUMMERSIDE --OK, it’s mid July, too early, by some standards, to be thinking of backpacks and back-to-school shopping.

But what will be the rage come September? What popular characters will be displayed on backpacks, and what cool colours will lace up those new pair of sneakers?

Chances are, the backpacks and contents children obtain through the YMCA’s Kids Equipped to Learn Program will be very similar to the ones supplied by parents.

Anne Flynn, the new coordinator of the Summerside YMCA’s Kids Equipped to Learn Program stresses that steps are taken to make sure the backpacks and contents are no different than those other children will be carrying on the first day of the 2014-15 school year. “Our attempt is that the child goes to school feeling the same as other children,” she emphasized.

Just as parents would search out backpacks and supplies that match their children’s interest, the Y’s shoppers do the same as the request forms have an area where family can identify their children’s special interests.

The Y has already sent out requests for donations in support of the program and responses are starting to come in and several businesses are signed on as sponsors. As well, Hemphill Pontiac is accepting backpacks in support of the program this month.

Flynn admits it’s still pretty early for parents to be thinking back-to-school, but she said requests normally start flowing in late July.

Last year the Summerside program filled 175 backpacks. The program will accommodate up to 225 this year. For children up to Grade 6, the backpacks will contain school supplies and sneakers. For the higher grades the packs contain only the school supplies. The Y obtains lists of what supplies are needed at each of the area schools.

Referrals are received from the Salvation Army, Income Support and the Newcomers Association, but families in need of support can call the Y at 436-3446 to register for assistance. The program serves from Crapaud to Ellerslie.

Flynn recognizes there is a similar program, Operation Backpack, serving both east and West Prince. She stresses the programs don’t compete but help ensure that people who need assistance with back-to-school shopping are not left out.

Backpacks for the Y Kids Equipped to Learn Program will be filled at Trinity United Church Hall in Summerside on August 13. Packers will be given a list of supplies for each coded backpack. Flynn said only she will have the master list that identifies the recipients. Backpacks will be available for pick-up on August 14.