Stephanie Piché (left) and Allison Wilson showing just some of the donations they've received for the Back to School Project. Photo taken by author.
With inflation reaching record highs, Embrun Family Centre seeks to alleviate back-to-school pressure for parents. The ‘Back to School Project’ which aims to supply children with necessities for the coming school year, was started by Stephanie Piché and Allison Wilson, both registered early childhood educators. Wilson says that the idea came while watching the news.
“I saw that there was inflation regarding school materials, a fifty per cent increase on a bunch of stuff, and I just thought why don’t just get some things ready for kids who might be more vulnerable in our sector.”
The inflation is felt by more than just Embrun, with reports from all over the country showing that parents are hit with skyrocketing prices when it comes to school supplies.
“The cost of school textbooks and supplies rose 2.8 per cent from July 2022 to July 2023” states an article published August 28, 2023, by the CBC titled ‘Back-to-school sticker shock has some Manitoba parents searching for savings’ deals on supplies and clothing.’
Fortunately for this community, the Back to School Project has had little in the way of complications.
“We started by reaching out to the community asking if they had any gently used or brand-new supplies that they could give it to us,” Said Piché. "So that's how it started. And the people in our community just started coming in and dropping off bags of stuff that they had, and some people brought in brand new stuff.”
What goes into just one of the bags given to students. Items that are currently most needed are lunchboxes and backpacks, but the two say they are still accepting things like lined paper and pencils. Image provided by Embrun Family Centre
The two say that they have had contributions from local businesses as well. Receiving items from the secondhand store in Embrun as well as the Indépendent grocery store.
In addition to this program the Family Centre also has programs for parents with newborns that supply early childcare items as well as a program that supplies children with snow-suits during the colder months.
Piché estimates that about 20 per cent of the community is in need of programs like the Back to School Project.
The two say that they will continue the project for the 2024 new school year, regardless of whether or not inflation Is still an issue, and hope to make it a regular program at Embrun Family Centre. Those who would like to make donations can find the Embrun Family Centre on Facebook or call at (613) 443-1614.
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