For many families, the costs pile up and it is sometimes difficult to cope. That is why 1,300 families are already enrolled in the Sharing Student Success program. Last year, nearly 4,000 families benefited from the help desk, which has been in operation since 2011.
"The Sharing Student Success program allows each family of a child from elementary to Grade 8 to receive a voucher worth $40 at Giant Tiger that will help them to meet the expenses of school. We prefer to give them a gift certificate because it allows them to choose themselves what they need. It may be school items, snacks, new shoes ...," says Julie Séguin, communications coordinator for Sharing Student Success.
The organization, which also manages a Christmas program, says that if these times are stressful for many parents, they are even more for children.
"Imagine yourself in the shoes of a child who arrives in the fall with only a plastic bag as a backpack? For a child, it's hard to accept feeling different. All children aspire to be like others. We also know that it is often the starting point of intimidation. Sometimes, a simple backpack can make all the difference in a child's school career."
In 2008, the Community Foundation of Ottawa indicated that one in five suffered from poverty in Ottawa. To qualify for this assistance, families in the Ottawa area can register with community organizations, food banks or services offered in some parishes.
Often, these are single parents struggling with difficult times, such as job loss or illness, and who seek the program only once. For others, it is a more recurrent assistance.
"We want to help as many families as possible."
Times are tough for fundraising
The aid that will be administered in the fall will depend on the generosity of Ottawa residents.
"We watched at Christmas time, we were unable to collect as many donations as we had hoped. Of 11,100 registered, we could only help 5,400 families. This can be explained by the fact that there are more families in need and also that times are tough for everyone, with financial insecurity and employment, particularly because of cuts in the federal public service."
Sharing Student Success would like to collect most donations by the beginning of August in order to distribute the vouchers before school starts.
Translated by Catherine Kitts