Staples helping to load the lockers at Comox Valley schools

Staples Canada has been committed to supporting communities across the country ever since it opened its first store, and at no time is this more apparent than back-to-school time.

"We're a very successful company, and we've been very blessed that way," Steve Matyas, president of Staples Canada, said last week as he visited the Courtenay store as part of a province-wide tour during the busy back-to-school rush. "We've had a lot of good breaks since we started in 1991. We always wanted folks to feel they never had to make a choice between a company that puts up good numbers year after year and a company that has good corporate responsibility."

STEVE MATYAS

STEVE MATYAS

Staples Canada has been committed to supporting communities across the country ever since it opened its first store, and at no time is this more apparent than back-to-school time.

“We’re a very successful company, and we’ve been very blessed that way,” Steve Matyas, president of Staples Canada, said last week as he visited the Courtenay store as part of a province-wide tour during the busy back-to-school rush. “We’ve had a lot of good breaks since we started in 1991. We always wanted folks to feel they never had to make a choice between a company that puts up good numbers year after year and a company that has good corporate responsibility.”

Supporting education is a top priority for Staples.

“We have a long history of involvement with the teachers and schools of Canada,” said Matyas.

One of Staples’ main campaigns is Recycle for Education. Schools register with Staples, and the company makes donations to schools for every toner or ink cartridge that is recycled in the store.

“It was a great feeling for us to help out the beleaguered school system,” said Matyas.

By the next Earth Day this April, Matyas says they will hit the 10-million mark in ink and toner cartridges recycled.

Ten to 12 years ago, Staples started a program that on Vancouver Island is called Stock the Lockers.

Staples employees and their customers donate money and school supplies before school starts, and the funds are distributed within the local school system to help students in need.

The campaign is taking place right now.

As of last Monday, the program had already collected about $250,000 worth of products in the western market.

“Our goal is to achieve $1 million,” said Matyas. “We think it’s achievable, even in these touch economic times.”

Locally, Courtenay Staples manager Arnie Harnden works with Allan Douglas, School District 71’s director of elementary education, who makes sure the funds go to the students who need them the most.

This year, local groups such as the Knights of Columbus have expressed interest in donating to the campaign, explained Harnden, adding that a lot of Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce peers have been supportive as well.

“My staff love the program, just the sense of accomplishment for them they feel they achieve during the drive,” he said. “There are instances where some of them have experience either themselves or others they know being in need. Once people know it’s community-based and that it all stays here, the support is fabulous. For my management staff too, it’s a really exciting time. Coupled with back-to-school, which is very busy, this is one other part of it that makes it a very positive experience.”

The local store is also involved with a number of different local events, including Vancouver Island MusicFest, the Comox Taxi Team Charity Golf Tournament, Nautical Days and Canada Day. Staples Courtenay supports the Comox Valley Power Squadron and employees are involved in numerous charity golf tournaments.

“Essentially, everything we do, we want to keep it here, and a lot of it is geared specifically toward education,” said Harnden. “I think being able to develop the relationship we’ve got with the local school board, particularly through Allan Douglas, is probably one of the real benefits we’ve achieved here, to get funds distributed and into the right hands.”

As a company, Staples Canada is a big supporter of Special Olympics. It’s a partnership that’s been running for about 15 years.

“Pretty much our entire staff at our home office went to a hockey game; all you had to do was be there and see kids with intellectual challenges out there giving it their all, and we couldn’t not do it,” said Matyas. “It’s been a really nice relationship.”

Staples now represents 15 per cent of Special Olympics’ operating revenue, which is more than any other company, explained Matyas.

“We feel pretty good about the fact we can help kids out as much as we have to give them a richer life,” he said.

About 10 years ago, Staples started the Give a Dollar. Share a Dream campaign for Special Olympics, and Matyas says the campaign has probably raised more than $4 million for Special Olympics since it started.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com