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It’s back to school time and Woolwich Community Services in Elmira is ready to lend a helping hand again this summer.

The organization is offering the annual ‘BackPack Program’ to help ease the stress for low income families who might be in need.

“September can be a difficult and costly time of year, and there is a need to purchase new school supplies for children and youth returning to school,” says Tina Reed, Coordinator of Community Supports with Woolwich Community Services.

“For families in need, I think this helps take a little stress off the parents.”

The program has been assisting low income families by providing backpacks and grade appropriate supplies since 2003.

Originally, a youth centre driven initiative, the idea prospered into a successful program which today, assists many families in Woolwich Township.

According to Woolwich Community Services, there is a need to fill 125 backpacks with school supplies for this coming fall.

Donations can be dropped off by August 19th at the Youth Centre at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, Tuesday – Friday between 1-10 pm or at Woolwich Community Services at 5 Memorial Ave., Elmira between 9-5 pm.

Items required are backpacks, (especially for youth 12-18 years)  thermal lunch bags, binders, youth scissors, calculators, (regular and scientific) markers, pencil cases, water bottles pencil sharpeners, math sets, Kleenex, crayons, glue sticks, duo tangs, erasers, highlighters, three ring lined paper, pencil crayons and pencils.

The program is available to low income families with school aged children, JK through to Grade 12, who live in Woolwich Twp.

Children and youth can come to Woolwich Community Services on August 28 – 30th from 9 – 5 pm.

The organization says that part of getting excited for the new school year is picking out items that fit each personality, whether it be a flashy backpack, the funky eraser or a plain pencil case.

Children and youth are encouraged to pick and choose what they would like.

“We have set it up so each grade can pick up their own items,” Reed said.

“Kids can get what they need and not have to worry. I love watching the kids come in and pick up what they like with their brothers and sisters. And there is no stress for them like there might be in a store.”

Woolwich Community Services has been the helping hand and community service provider to thousands of Woolwich and northern Wellesley Township residents since 1974.

The focus is on individual and family services, children and youth and providing programs such as the food hamper program, the family violence prevention program and a foodbank which distributes hampers to help suit the needs of low-income families.

The ‘Lunch Crunch” program, is also offered through the Woolwich Food Bank and provides families nutritious foods for children to take to school.

And in the summer months, Home Hardware Head Office in St. Jacobs delivers produce from their employee-initiated garden.

The BackPack program runs in line with the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank’s ‘Backpacks for Bookworms’ which also provides filled backpacks to low income families in Cambridge and North Dumfries.

This year’s goal is to fill 700 backpacks.

People interested in donating can deliver backpacks and school supplies to the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank office at 54 Ainslie Street South, Cambridge.

Registration for backpacks is open at the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank Office from Monday to Friday from 1 pm – 4 pm and Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 am – 12 pm until August 16th.

Parents wishing to register their children need to bring proof of income, address, and names and ages of their children.

Distribution of backpacks will take place on Aug. 27 at the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank.

Wellesley Township also has their own backpack program on August 29. For more information, contact Susan Martin at (519) 504-1878.

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