Pens. Pencils. Paper.
Although these items are the building blocks of success in school, some families struggle to give their kids these supplies, and some of those families live right in the Comox Valley.
Staples Canada has been helping to ensure kids get the back-to-school supplies they need for years with its Stock the Lockers campaign, and the Staples store in Courtenay has participated in the campaign since it first opened about eight years ago.
“It’s really taken off,” said Courtenay Staples general manager Arnie Harnden. “Our associates, our staff really embrace it. Some of them came up from families that maybe struggled a bit when they were kids going to school, so they understand the need, and really support it. It’s a great cause, it’s really been good.”
The store started taking donations in mid-July and as of Monday had raised about $4,300. With a couple weeks left to go, Harnden is confident the store will meet or exceed its goal of $5,500 for the campaign, which will wrap up Sept. 10 or 14. Last year, the store raised about $3,800.
Harnden works with School District 71’s director of elementary education Allan Douglas, who speaks to school staff to find out which families should receive help.
“The teachers and principals in the schools know who the families are that are struggling with supporting their kids with their supplies,” Harnden said. “And then they make sure that it gets to the families who need the support for their supplies.”
Chosen families receive a gift card to Staples so they can pick out the important items their kids need.
Staples Canada president Steve Matyas was in Courtenay on Friday during his tour of about 140 stores in the summer. He noted the overall goal of Vancouver Island stores is $50,000 this year and the goal for the entire country is $1 million.
The funds raised at each store stay in that community and Matyas said he feels pride when he thinks about what the stores do in communities, especially during tough economic times.
“I’m really proud of our people and I’m really appreciative of our customers,” he said, adding “because as you know the economy was pretty rough in most parts of the country other than Alberta (last year) and we managed to raise $1 million for needy kids — which is unbelievable because the year before we raised I think $550,000 — so it seems as the economy got worse people actually became more generous.”
He noted Staples Canada also supports various other causes and has done so for many years.
As an example, Matyas noted the company is a big supporter of Special Olympics. It’s a partnership that’s been running for about 15 years, and Staples now represents 15 per cent of Special Olympics’ operating revenue.
“It’s not something that we’re johnny-come-latelies on, it’s something that we’ve been doing, really since 1991,” he said.
Anyone interested in making a donation to the Stock the Lockers campaign can drop by the Staples location in Courtenay at 3299 Cliffe Ave.