Back-to-school backpack donation drive sees ‘unprecedented demand’ due to high cost of living

Tools for School is hoping to receive more donations from Edmontonians before the school year begins. As Laura Krause reports, the organization provides school supplies for students, but is struggling to keep up as demand increases.

The clock is ticking down to the first day of school, and many parents are feeling the financial pressures that come with back-to-school shopping.

Many Edmonton-area families are turning to United Way for help. Their Tools for School campaign is seeing higher demand for their backpacks filled with school supplies than ever before.

“We have seen unprecedented demand,” said Suzi Medhurst, the program manager of Tools for School. “Just the effects of the pandemic still, the cost of living, and the influx of refugees and newcomers we are seeing, we’ve just seen a huge increase in the need in the community.”

United Way’s Tools for School campaign aims to give kids what they need to succeed in the classroom, so they can learn and participate with their peers.

The Tools for School campaign has already prepared more than 16,500 backpacks full of supplies for Edmonton-area students. That’s a large increase from the roughly 12,500 backpacks that were distributed in 2021.

“In the 29 years of the program we have never not met the needs of the community and we are committed to making sure every child does receive the tools they need,” said Medhurst.

“We knew that the need was going to be high this year but we certainly didn’t expect it to hit over 16,000.”

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