Clockwise from left: Annika van Stein

Clockwise from left: Annika van Stein

Fundraising drive helps stock Nanaimo lockers

NANAIMO – Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation kicks of fourth annual Stock the Lockers Campaign.

Underprivileged kids will start another school year with basic school supplies, food and other necessities, thanks to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation.

The foundation kicked off its fourth annual Stock the Lockers Campaign at Staples Aulds Road location Thursday morning when representatives from the school district and sponsoring companies, including Coastal Community Credit Union, Costco, Staples and other supporters turned out for event.

The fundraising target for this year’s campaign, which runs until Sept. 5,  is $50,000 to buy school supplies and help provide basic necessities, including school lunch and breakfast programs for children in need.

Sponsors and supporters have helped raise $140,000 for the foundation’s Student Support Fund since the campaign started in 2009.

“It’s been huge support from the community,” said Erin van Steen, foundation executive director. “I can’t say enough about how much of a difference that money makes to the vulnerable children within our school district and how much it assists them with going back to school and also throughout the school year.”

The campaign is the foundation’s biggest annual fundraiser. Carlos Pellegrino, Staples district manager, said poverty is one of the most vicious diseases in society and this year’s drive will help protect some of the most vulnerable in the community.

“Going back to school is probably something most of us have taken for granted and something that we did very easily,” Pellegrino said. “It’s not so easy for a lot of people in our community.”

Among the sponsors recognized at the event was Costco, which this year donated school supplies for 300 children.

“Stock the lockers is really all about empowering young people to have the capacity to learn,” said Pat Ross, foundation president.

Brechin Elementary School is among the Nanaimo schools that count on the money the foundation donates through the school year to make sure students have the basics they need to help get through each day, which can include school supplies, meals and even clothing.

“At Brechin we are definitely a high needs, inner city school,” said Diane Goodman, school principal. “Over the school year we’ll support between 40 and 50 per cent of the students with school supplies at different times. Now, it might not be everything that they need, but it could be something that there’s just no way. If the choice is between buying a protractor and buying a loaf of bread, it’s going to be a loaf of bread. So, being able to make sure that the kids have their tools all year round is huge.”

Donations can be made by cash or cheque through the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation office by calling 250-753-4074 or online at the schools foundation website at www.nlsf.ca.

Donations can also be made at Nanaimo Staples checkouts and the credit union.