The inaugural school supply drive involving the Estevan Salvation Army and Staples resulted in more than $2,500 in gift card donations.
Staples customers were encouraged to purchase gift cards, which would then be turned over to the Salvation Army. Disadvantaged families from the area could then apply to receive the gift cards, so that they could buy supplies for their children for the upcoming school year.
So far, the Estevan Salvation Army has distributed about $2,200 in gift cards to 50 children from 18 different families in the Estevan area, said Lieutenant Brian Bobolo.
It's not too late for a family to apply for support through the school supplies initiative, either. The Salvation Army still has about $400 in gift cards, Bobolo said, and people can apply by visiting the Salvation Army's Fourth Street location.
"If families are still struggling to buy supplies – and some of them can be really expensive, especially for the older grades – there's still an opportunity to come down and apply and receive some gift cards," said Bobolo.
Bobolo said that when the Salvation Army enters a program for the first time, they don't know how many families will apply. The ministry promotes the initiative, contacts families that they have worked with previously, distributes the funds and follows up with the recipients.
Now they have some money to distribute to families during the school year.
"We know from past experiences that some families come into Estevan after the start of the year, and they still need supplies," said Bobolo. "We also know that high school students, in particular, often need to buy another round of supplies come January in anticipation of their second semester, and so there are opportunities to distribute more funds during the year."
This was the first time the Salvation Army and Staples have worked together in Estevan, but the two have collaborated on back-to-school campaigns in other communities. The partnership with Staples was great, Bobolo said, and he looks forward to it continuing next year.