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Community straps in for Guelph Community Backpack Project

'It gives us as a community a chance to celebrate together,' said Jaya James, executive director of Hope House
20160815 Hope House backpack program ts
A file photo at Hope House from a backpack project event in 2016. GuelphToday file photo

School is out, but the Guelph Community Backpack Project will soon be in session.

Hope House is currently accepting applications from families to register their child for the annual school supply drive. Last year, the project distributed 1,600 backpacks filled with school materials to those in need. So far this year, 1,315 families have already registered for the program. 

Jaya James, executive director at Hope House, said this program helps kids get on equal footing for the school year. 

“Education is key to exit poverty, and we know that the way our education system is set up, there are quite a few things kids need to bring to school in order to be successful," said James. "They need to bring their own school supplies, they need to bring their own lunch bags and have materials ready so that they can do the school work. For many families, it really can be challenging to acquire those items.”

To help meet the potential demand, a number of community organizations are taking part in the project. The Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, Salvation Army, Children's Foundation of Guelph and Wellington and YMCA are partnering with Hope House. Clayson Wealth Management and Skyline Group of Companies also return as program sponsors. 

“We’re excited that the YMCA is also going to be a pickup site this year,” said James. “We haven’t had a south end, that part of town, pickup site, and we know the YMCA is accessible for a number of families."

The Guelph Storm will also be assisting on the action, collecting backpacks from July 4 to July 28. For every new backpack donated with all school supplies listed on the Guelph Storm website, residents will receive two tickets to their upcoming match against the Erie Otters on Dec. 2. Backpacks can be dropped off at the Guelph Storm office or at Mark Wilson's Better Used Cars.

Matt Newby, vice president of business operations for the Guelph Storm, said the club hopes to collect between 300 to 500 backpacks and spread awareness about the project.

"I think the education aspect is a huge part of why we wanted to get involved," said Newby.

“With the Storm, this opportunity they have provided will allow the whole community to get involved in a meaningful way," said James. “It gives us as a community a chance to celebrate together.”

The last day families can apply for the Guelph Community Backpack Project is July 29. To register, click on this link