Caitlin McKenzie (left to right)

Fairstart gives kids new school supplies

Roughly 700 children from low-income families will head back to the classroom in September with brand new school supplies.

Roughly 700 children from low-income families will head back to the classroom in September with brand new school supplies thanks to a program through the Mustard Seed.

As part of the Fairstart program, the Mustard Seed in partnership with Monk Office, will distribute 700 kits to 350 families with children returning to school in the fall. The kits, which are being distributed until the end of July, include essential stationary for children in grades one through 12, such as binders, crayons, paper and pens.

Allan Lingwood, interim executive director with the Mustard Seed, said the program offers children from low-income families the same opportunities as other children.

“There’s a huge amount of stigma about children that don’t have what other children have in their class. Children have the notorious attitude of being very harsh towards one another sometimes,” Lingwood said, adding the program also helps ease the pressure on older children, many of whom are worried about where money is coming from and how to put food on the table for their family.

“For children who aren’t quite up to standard in the class, they get really beaten down a lot of the times. This provides them the opportunity just to get on an equal playing field.”

Monk Office helped provide the supplies and labour to assemble the kits to roughly 600 kids last year. This year that number has increased by almost 100 children.

“It really levels the playing field for those who might not be as fortunate to come out of the gate for the start of school,” said Mark Breslauer, CEO and president of Monk Office.

The Telus Victoria Community board also donated $5,000 to the program.