Six-hundred kids from low-income families in Victoria will be heading back to the classroom with new school supplies and clothing as part of a program through The Mustard Seed.
Fair Start provides hundreds of students from kindergarden to Grade 12 with custom back-to-school kits, which include stationary, binders, paper, pens, pencils, markers, USB sticks and other basic supplies needed to start the school year.
“We’re very intentional about making sure that as much as we can influence it, that children aren’t impacted negatively by the economic circumstances of their family,” said Colin Tessier, executive director with The Mustard Seed. “It can be a very traumatic thing for a child living in poverty who goes to school with less. You open yourself up to being bullied and picked on.”
The organization is collecting backpacks, shoes and clothing to distribute to kids as well.
Last year, the organization handed out 500 kits to local students, but that number has increased this year.
According to Allan Lingwood, director of development with The Mustard Seed, more families are finding it difficult to buy basic school supplies.
“When kids get out of school, they rely on more food at home, parents often have to pay for additional childcare and then fast forward a couple of months and the investment of getting their kids back to school is a burden,” he said. “We’ve just grown and grown the program over 17 years.”
The kits, which are valued at roughly $20-$40, were contributed and packaged by Monk Office at a discounted rate.
“It levels the playing field for many that otherwise would not be able to readily acquire all the things they need to have a fair and fresh start,” said Mark Breslauer, president and CEO of Monk Office.
People can still donate clothing, math sets, shoes and backpacks at The Mustard Seed (625 Queens Ave.) until the end of August.