For some people, shopping for brand new school supplies is an absolute treasure: pencils whose sharpened ends haven’t scritch-scratched a piece of paper yet; books that smell new; colourful markers; inexpensive flash drives and camera memory cards.
Others, though, dread the time of year when school supply lists start showing up in the stationery stores because they know they won’t be able to afford all that “new”.
That’s where Staples has stepped in for the past three years. And this year will be no different, says general manager Gerry Denis.
Staples in Port Alberni kicked off its fourth annual Stock the Lockers event last weekend with a silent auction inside the store at Pacific Rim Shopping Centre. And Denis is not messing around: “Our goal is $8,000,” he said.
The Alberni Staples has raised nearly $19,000 in three years, and all that money went to help local students—not a penny of it was sent to head office, he asserted.
This year Staples has appealed to Alberni Valley service clubs to get involved. The store is holding a silent auction featuring items donated by local businesses. And they will hold their annual barbecue, including the Kiwanis concession bus, before the end of the campaign on Sept. 6.
“The silent auction is something new we’ve never tried before,” Denis said. There is also a draw, sponsored by PEAK FM, for one student each from elementary, middle and high school to win their school supplies this year.
Stock the Lockers raises money for local families who can’t afford school supplies. The store works closely with Barb Witte from School District 70 to ensure supplies reach the students who need them most.
Even Denis acknowledges how expensive it can be to collect the entire school supply list for each student—he is a parent, too.
Stock the Lockers is a national program for Staples, and B.C. is the frontrunner, Denis said. The store typically supports youth-oriented initiatives, but this particular event serves a niche.
“There’s a great need for this,” he said. “There are a lot of families that can’t afford school supplies.”
Anyone wanting to apply for assistance with their children’s supplies needs to speak with their school principal, who will relay those needs to Witte.
Once the campaign ends Sept. 6, the district will give Staples a shopping list and divide supplies for students who need them, Mitchell said.