Nova Scotia

Parker Street school supply donations just half of what's needed

With the start of school just days away, Parker Street Furniture and Food Bank is trying to cobble together as many school supplies as possible to fill the growing demand for donations.

'One thing we don't want is to turn anyone away,' says organizer Cynthia Louis

Parker Street only has about half the supplies it needs to help all the students who have registered under its back to school program. (Steve Berry/CBC)

With the start of school just days away, Parker Street Furniture and Food Bank is trying to cobble together as many school supplies as possible to meet the growing demand for donations.

Every year, the charity runs a back-to-school program, handing out stuffed bags to students in need.

Already this year, 700 kids have registered for the program. That's the same number that picked up bags last year. But with several more days left to sign up, organizer Cynthia Louis expects to reach the highest number yet.

Cynthia Louis of Parker Street expects demand for the school supply program to reach its highest level yet this year. (Steve Berry/CBC)

"A lot of people are already in a fragile state and they're expecting to get school supplies," she said, pointing to the economy and the rising cost of utilities as a possible reason for the increased demand.

'Bringing hope'

So far, they've collected enough supplies to fill about half the demand.

"One thing we don't want to is to turn anyone away. We're not in the business of heart-breaking, we're in the business of bringing hope."

Louis says they need a range of products to fill the final bags. From notebooks to UBS sticks, they try to find supplies for every age group.

Parker Street expects to hand out at least 700 stuffed backpacks in the next week. (Steve Berry/CBC)

She said the charity will purchase some supplies to make up for any shortfall, but that can add up. The stuffed packs range in value from $50 to $150 depending on the grade.

Packing bags

The program is run entirely by volunteers, including Krista Haysome.

Her family is spending some of the last days of summer stuffing supplies into bags.

"I felt overwhelmed for the staff and the volunteers who are working on this task," she said.

"Honestly, it looks insurmountable."

A few hours later, Haysome was impressed by how quickly the completed backpacks stacked up.

"This has been our first real volunteer effort outside of school activities and we're really pleased to do it."