STC, Nutrien and KPCL deliver school backpacks in Saskatoon
- Andréa Ledding | September 19, 2020
Trullie Jimmy and her siblings were excited to receive well-stocked backpacks, delivered right to their home this year.
Jimmy is going into grade nine at Mount Royal, and admits she’s a bit nervous to leave elementary school behind, but she’s not too worried about COVID, and she’s looking forward to math classes. When asked about how the backpacks made her feel, that was an easy answer.
“Happy,” said Jimmy. Her siblings agreed, as four of the six Jimmy children that were home at the moment organized on the lawn to pose for a picture with White Buffalo Youth Lodge workers Toni Oliver and Tara Arcand, who were in the midst of delivering backpacks all over the city for the second day in a row. Everyone was happy to see each other after a summer apart.
Chief Mark Arcand of the Saskatoon Tribal Council said they had to make adjustments this year to their normal delivery of the annual free backpacks and school supplies, because of COVID-19.
“Last year we did 2,500 backpacks plus a big carnival, this year because of COVID we dropped it down to 1,500,” said Arcand, adding that with the money donated, they ordered not only regular school supplies but 15,000 disposable masks so that each student gets ten, and hand sanitizer as well.
On August 25 and 26, the 1,500 backpacks were filled by volunteers and supporting donor organizations, including Nutrien and KPCL, and the next two days they were delivered to homes.
“It’s community support,” said Arcand. “On Sunday we did free haircuts for kids that came in, with five hairstylists from Sunsera donating their time.”
Julie Ann Wriston of Nutrien says her company stands with community partners in ensuring that future leaders, the youth, have every opportunity to not only participate, but thrive in their education.
“Saskatoon Tribal Council prides itself on resiliency and has continued to create an environment of success for youth,” said Wriston, adding that although this year's backpack giveaway was different with the presence of COVID-19, the care and attention shown by the planners and supplier network in ensuring that kids still have what they need to start the school year off right is a strong signal that the relationships can rise to any challenge. “We are in this together, because together, we grow.”
Mary Panteluk of KPCL said it was her company’s third year participating, and her second year helping organize.
“As a kid, I remember being so excited to get back to school – to learn new things and see friends – and getting organized with school supplies was that crucial transition period between fun and games in the summer to getting back to developing and learning in school,” said Panteluk. “We are fortunate to have many community and business members coming together to support this initiative and help those that need an extra hand up right now, especially during these unprecedented times.”
Besides the masks and sanitizer, this year’s supplies also included reusable water bottles, along with the usual writing tools, notebooks and binders.
“I had the opportunity to meet some of the families and kids from a distance when delivering backpacks and many of those I spoke with were excited and ready to go back,” said Panteluk. “The backpacks and supplies provided are fundamental to supporting kids as they continue their education throughout grade school and develop into leaders of the future.”