Back to school in style

For some families, back to school can be a trying time. Thanks to a handful of generous residents, for some families, this year was different

It started with a Facebook post.

Over the summer, Sheryl Kimbley posted to Facebook to fundraise for a few families who couldn’t afford to go to the summer fair. It was a success. She knew back to school time was coming, and remembered that shopping for school supplies could be a challenge for young families. She decided to do something to help.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had to shop for school supplies for my kids, but I thought it’s quite the thing for parents, especially if they have more than one child.”

She put up a call out on Facebook. People kept reaching out asking how they could contribute, donating money and supplies for Kimbley’s project.

“People are really good. You just have to show people sometimes a way to help,” Kimbley explained.

“They don’t know how to help, but they want to.”

Kimbley went into it thinking supplies would range from $80 to $120 dollars per kid.

“I was totally shocked to find out, as I started shopping, that’s not the cast. It’s anywhere from $100 to $240 per kid. Which is ridiculous. There’s got to be a better day.”

Those costs add up quickly, whether it’s headphones, two pairs of shoes or two types of bags, it’s a struggle for some families to afford the supply list, especially if they have a handful of children.

“It’s unrealistic for a lot of today’s young parents. Some of these people we helped were grandparents raiding their grandkids,” Kimbley said.

“I was really glad to see more people coming. By the time things were done, we had donations of about $1,000.

Several people stepped up to help, including teacher and city councillor Dennis Ogrodnick, the casino, and Vincent Massey School teacher Pamela Cochet. As a teacher, Cochet sees students in her classroom every year who have families that can’t afford the supplies they need.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “We know every family has a story. Some families have no mean to buy the supplies. That’s why in our school, one of our fundraisers is collecting juice boxes and recycling them to buy extra supplies for the kids.”

Cochet, and several other teachers, also keep their own supplies to help students out.

“When I saw Sheryl was collecting, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to help contribute towards what she was doing,” Cochet said.

“I have three children of my own, but they’re all grown now. But when I was a single mom trying to handle things years ago it was tough. But everything has gone up so much in price, for families that have a lot of children, it’s really hard for them to meet all the needs that schools are asking for. I think the more programming things we can do to try to encourage other people to participate would be great.”

Several families were nominated to receive packs of school supplies. The ones who received the supplies were blown away by the kindness of strangers.

For more on this story, please see the Sept. 5 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald

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