From left - Jiffy Lube owner Kevin Wilson and Boom Wilson, Staples Courtenay general manager Sharon Mischook, SD 71 trustee and interim board chair Tonia Frawley, and SD 71 superintendent Tom Demeo model the backpacks delivered to the school district office Tuesday, Sept. 15. Photo by Terry Farrell

Jiffy Lube, Staples team up to supply Comox Valley schools with backpacks again this year

200 backpacks filled with essentials to be distributed to area schools

Jiffy Lube and Staples have teamed up once again to supply Comox Valley schools with backpacks full of back-to-school supplies for area students.

Two truckloads – a total of 200 backpacks – were delivered to School District 71 Tuesday afternoon, much to the delight of SD71 superintendent Tom Demeo.

“We really appreciate people looking out for our students, and the community as a whole,” he said after the first of two shipments arrived. “This is really going to help, and go a long way for our kids and our families.”

Demeo said the board is already in contact with principals of the local schools to make sure the packages are distributed accordingly.

“Our director of instruction, Allan Douglas, and Geoff Manning, the assistant superintendent, will be working with the schools directly to identify those families and students that need the supplies.”

Sharon Mischook, the general manager of Staples in Courtenay, said this is the third year of the program, and they’ve added even more items than in previous years.

“They have basic supplies, like rulers, scissors, pencil sharpeners, pencils and erasers and all that stuff most kids need when they go back to school,” said Mischook. “This year we were able to add zipper binders and other storage items for the kids going back to middle school-high school, and for the elementary packages we were able to add some lunch items as well, like water bottles, or some storage for their snacks.”

She said Staples recognizes the importance of the program goes beyond students’ needs for supplies.

“We know it’s important for the kids to go back to school with everything that they need and we do find that there are so many kids that unfortunately don’t have the supplies that they need, and they feel different when they go back to school. Our goal is to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity, and that all kids can go back to school with everything they need, and not feeling like they are different than anybody else, because they don’t have the same supplies.”

Courtenay Jiffy Lube owner Kevin Wilson created the program in 2018, adopting an initiative he first spearheaded with a company he owned in Alberta.

“We did this at Hi-Volt Safety Courses in Grande Prairie, Alberta – we started that out in 2012,” he said. “It grew from 100 backpacks to about 400 backpacks per year.”

The program has already doubled in size in the Comox Valley. In 2018, the program supplied 100 backpacks to the district.

“There’s an absolute need, and probably even more so this year, with the pandemic,” he said, adding that Jiffy Lube customers have been very helpful. “We were getting cash donations from our customers throughout the year and that added up to close to $1,100, which allowed us to put additional supplies into the backpacks.”

Demeo said distribution of the backpacks would be immediate.

“Absolutely, we are on that right away – that’s today’s business.”

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