Rebecca Trudeau visited Winnipeg Harvest more times then she can remember between the ages of four and 17.
"We grew up on social assistance," said Trudeau. "So when you think about it, a lot of that money is going to rent and other bills that we had. So when it came down to it, food wasn’t really there."
Trudeau is the co-ordinator for the Tools for School program, supplying Winnipeg families with school supplies. Run in partnership with Staples Business Depot and the Winnipeg Goldeyes, the campaign will run from July 18 to Sept. 8.
"I actually didn’t know (the Tools for School program) existed when I was growing up," said Trudeau. "I’m sure I would have used it if I knew."
Trudeau said having the right supplies for school is much like not having enough food for lunch.
"Without the right supplies you can’t thrive educationally," said Trudeau. "A lot of times kids don’t want to go to school because they don’t have a lunch, but if they don’t have the school supplies they probably don’t want to go either."
Ted Fransen, assistant superintendent for the Pembina Trails School Division, said getting enough school supplies for students has been an ongoing issue, and it isn’t getting any easier.
"School supplies — they aren’t getting any cheaper," said Fransen. "Families certainly find them to be a burden, our school principals and school (administrators) work really hard at keeping the school supplies list reasonable."
Each school in the division has a budget for extra supplies, depending on its location and need.
"The schools that have the neediest families would have the larger budget for those purposes," said Fransen. "It’s a school-by-school decision."
Fransen has heard that teachers may also be purchasing school supplies for their classes.
"Our view would be that the school budget and parents’ support for supplies should be enough," said Fransen. "But as in any profession, teachers are caring people. I would never want to stand in the way of that, but fundamentally the school budget and parents should be enough."
To kick off the Tools for School Campaign, the Staples location at 9-1910 Pembina Hwy. hosted the first annual Tools for School Shopping Challenge July 18. Media personalities and students were teamed up to complete a worksheet using bags filled with supplies hidden in two aisles of the store.
Some of the bags weren’t as full as others, proving how hard it can be to complete school work without the proper supplies.
People can donate to the Tools for School program at Winnipeg Harvest (1085 Winnipeg Ave.), Goldeyes home games, and any Staples location in Winnipeg. Those who donate at Staples will be entered into a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree.