With school starting in days, Halifax Regional Municipality charities that provide school supplies say demand for help is significantly higher this year – and dozens of applicants find themselves asking for help. help for the first time.
The Salvation Army distributed approximately 700 backpacks on the day of its distribution. Families could fill them with supplies, including paper, scissors, markers and calculators.
That number is nearly 25 percent higher than last year, and rising.
Captain Brent Haas, who oversees the program, said The Salvation Army continues to receive requests. Many are from people who have never asked before.
Pandemic one factor
“Individuals make comments like, ‘I have always donated to The Salvation Army, I have always given, I never thought I would need to be a beneficiary, but here I am ‘”, did he declare.
“Obviously, the pandemic has affected them and their financial reality in such a way that they need help.”
Haas said it was revealing to speak to those in the service industry, who rely heavily on tips to fill their income gaps.
The Salvation Army is not the only place to see a growing need for help.
Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank just held its annual backpack distribution day. More than 900 bags full of supplies have been distributed – and there are 100 more children on the waiting list hoping for help before school starts next week.
That’s a 30% increase from last year, said Amgad Zaky, director of donor relations.
“We received even more applications than expected,” Zaky said. “We’ll do our best to give to everyone on our waiting list, but unfortunately that might not be possible if we run out of supplies.”
He said there is more pressure on families struggling to meet expenses now that students will be back in class and not studying at home.
Help for immigrant and refugee families
Zaky said a female, single mother of six, was extremely grateful for the support. He said they have also helped a number of immigrant and former refugee families.
“We are happy to be able to support those new to Halifax as they transition to their new home.
This is the first year that Zaky has worked with the program. He said it showed him that Parker Street could help in other ways.
He hopes he can include winter boots or coats in the program next year, to make sure all children have basic needs that can add up quickly.
At The Salvation Army, Haas said not only were more families helped, but volunteers received a lot more thanks and gratitude than usual.
“For many it’s almost a need equivalent to Christmas,” he said of the financial strain on families.
“Mentally and emotionally this season has been very difficult for a lot of people,” he said of their reactions as they came to pick up the supplies.
“When you could put something they’d love and be so proud to carry in their hands – and obviously there were all their school supplies – it kinda looked like Christmas, I have to say.”