School Supplies For Kids helps children living in shelters carry the load

An initiative undertaken in Calgary on Sunday should bring smiles to the faces of children living in domestic violence and homeless shelters.

Volunteers spent Sunday filling roughly 900 backpacks with school supplies

Volunteers with School Supplies For Kids, left, spent Sunday filling backpacks, which are donated to children living in domestic violence and homeless shelters in Calgary. (Mario De Ciccio/CBC)

An initiative undertaken in Calgary on Sunday should bring smiles to the faces of children living in some of the city's domestic violence and homeless shelters.

Around 80 volunteers with the School Supplies For Kids program spent the day filling backpacks with educational essentials that may have been left behind when the kids were forced to move.

"All of a sudden they're going to a new school and they don't have a backpack and all of the supplies they need," said program chair Stephanie Sacks.

"And we want the kids to feel like all the other kids to try and boost their self-esteem."

Run by the Jewish women's group Na'amat Canada, Sack said program filled around 900 backpacks this year with everything from pens and paper to notebooks and binders.

Student volunteers work to fill backpacks on Sunday. (Mario De Ciccio/CBC)

All told, roughly 19,000 backpacks have been handed out over the past 20 years.

Normally aimed at kids living in domestic violence shelters, the program has been expanded this year to include children living at three Calgary homeless shelters.

"Their situation is very similar in that families and mothers come there and they are in the same situation as the domestic violence shelters," said Sacks.

"Very often the woman has left her home because of violence and ends up in a homeless shelter for a while."

With files from Mario De Ciccio