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Community helps send kids back to school
107 school bags delivered to YWCA transitional and emergency housing tenants

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
More than 100 children will head back to school next week with new bags full of supplies thanks to thousands of dollars in donations from local shoppers.

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Seven-year-old Madison Thompson displays her new backpack, donated through the Staples School Supply Drive, which is still accepting donations at the store until Sept. 15. - Laura Busch/NNSL photo

An impromptu human chain formed between a truck-full of stocked backpacks -- delivered by Staples general manager Richard LaRoche and business support manager Tara Bentley and the YWCA's transitional and emergency housing building at Rockhill Apartments on 54 Avenue to bring the 107 bags into the housing complex, Aug. 28.

"I can only imagine how much money it costs to fill these bags," said mother of three Christine Barker with a wide smile as she watched two of her girls, Miranda Thompson, 8, and Madison Thompson, 7, showing off their new backpacks.

Having the items donated means not having to make hard decisions between snacks and food in lunchboxes and back-to-school supplies, she said.

"It's very, very costly to get them ready to go to school," said Barker.

The bags are being donated to children in need through the 2012 Staples School Supply Drive. Since July 29, the local retailer has been collecting cash and product donations.

Bentley, who organized Yellowknife's first drive of this kind through the store last year, said she is happy that the number of backpacks filled so far, 107, is more than were filled last year. However, there is still a ways to go before the back-to-school drive ends on Sept. 15.

The roughly $8,000 raised so far this year is actually less money than the previous drive, when Yellowknife residents donated about $10,000 to help kids start their school year on even footing with their classmates.

Aside from the bags delivered on Tuesday, another 46 names remain on the list that the Yellowknife YWCA provided the business. This list provides the children's names, along with their ages, gender, grades, and schools in order to customize each bag for the child who will be using it.

There are many children and families who could use a helping hand with school supplies, said Bently, who is hoping to raise enough money or products to fill an extra 40 bags.

"I would love to be able to say we've helped 200 kids in the Yellowknife, Dettah and Ndilo region," she said.

Donations are being accepted at the Staples store for the next two weeks.

"We could not do it without the community," said Bently. "We're the facilitators, we're not the drive. It's the community that's the drive."

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