A back-to-school backpack program designed to help families in need is back for the sixth year.
The program, run by The Salvation Army, provides backpacks filled with supplies for the upcoming school year.
“It’s really tough for some to afford school supplies and backpacks,” said Heather Hedstrom with the Saskatoon Salvation Army.
“This program now allows families to buy runners, clothes or put food on the table.”
Supplies are donated by a number of companies, including Staples, and private donors.
More than 900 backpacks were given out by the Salvation Army this year, up from 600 in 2015.
“We’ve seen an influx of Syrian refugees using the program,” Hedstrom said. “But the economy isn’t doing well, due to low oil prices. People are losing their jobs, so the need has dramatically increased.”
Hedstrom said a positive aspect of the program is the reward of seeing children prepared and ready to head back to class.
“I look at the smiles on the kid’s faces and they brighten my day,” she said. “They rip open the backpacks and start using the supplies right away.”
Additionally, the Saskatoon Tribal Council has also seen an increase in demand for their backpack program.
In 2015, the program provided 500 backpacks; this year, they’re expecting to hand out 1,000.
The supplies will be distributed Thursday during their annual carnival and backpack giveaway, which includes a community BBQ, face painting and dunk tank.