Alli Thompson and Sarah Thompson carrying bags full of school supplies, to be donated to kids across the Elk Valley and Crowsnest Pass as part of the 11th annual ‘Back to School Backpacks Campaign’, put on by the Women of Steel committee of the USW Local 9346. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

Alli Thompson and Sarah Thompson carrying bags full of school supplies, to be donated to kids across the Elk Valley and Crowsnest Pass as part of the 11th annual ‘Back to School Backpacks Campaign’, put on by the Women of Steel committee of the USW Local 9346. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

‘Equal on the first day’: Women of Steel donate 99 backpacks full of school supplies

The supplies will be delivered to anonymous kids in the Elk Valley and Crowsnest Pass

Ninety-nine kids from across the Elk Valley and Crowsnest Pass will be ready to return to school in September thanks to the Women of Steel of USW Local 9346.

This year marks the 11th year of the ‘Back to School Backpacks Campaign’, according to Sarah Thompson, co-chair of the Women of Steel committee.

The campaign provides backpacks full of needed school supplies to anonymous, underprivileged kids in Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford, and the Crowsnest Pass.

This year, just like last year, there will be 99 backpacks delivered.

“Our mandate is for kids, everybody to be equal on the first day,” Thompson said.

On Tuesday (Aug. 23), Thompson, along with co-chair Jen Riley, met at the Fernie Women’s Resource Centre with a delivery of 43 backpacks, to be donated through the centre.

Backpacks also went to the Sparwood Food Bank and to schools in the Crowsnest Pass, which will be delivering them to families.

Thompson said that preparing kids for school can be stressful.

“A lot of families struggle,” she said, adding that each supply kit costs around $100 when including the backpack, and that travelling to do the shopping can also be a concern.

The bags are packed according on supply lists provided by the schools, and include items for grades K to 12.

The campaign ensures that everybody has everything they need for the first day of school, she said.

The donation has about a $9,000 price tag. Funds were raised in a number of ways, including bus-stop barbecues for miners, a cheque from the Elk Valley Thrift Shop in exchange for volunteer hours, and donations from Teck, local businesses, and other local unions.

As for the supplies, most were procured via the IGS Value Drug Mart in Fernie and School Start in Calgary, both of whom gave discounts.

Thompson thanked those involved in the fundraising and supply-buying process.

She expressed hope that next year, they would hit the 100 mark for backpacks donated.

“It’s hard enough for kids lots of times to go back to school,” she said.

“So this is hopefully a little bit easier knowing that they’ve got everything just like all their friends do.”

READ MORE: Women of Steel make backpack donation as part of 10th annual campaign


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josh.fischlin@thefreepress.ca

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