Salvation Army communications officer Kyla Ferns and community ministries director Pat Humble are helping promote the organization's summer Backpack and School Supply Drive. The public is encouraged to donate either to help children from families in need start the school year off right this fall.

Salvation Army communications officer Kyla Ferns and community ministries director Pat Humble are helping promote the organization's summer Backpack and School Supply Drive. The public is encouraged to donate either to help children from families in need start the school year off right this fall.

Sally Ann needs help filling backpacks in Greater Victoria

Regional back-to-school charity campaign starts early

It may be the middle of summer, but the Salvation Army is already looking ahead to the start of school in September.

The service organization’s annual Backpack and School Supply Drive has kicked off and the public is encouraged to help out by donating supplies or cash to the cause. The goal is to accumulate enough of both to provide 5,000 children in need with the items they need to start the school year off right.

“We have seen a need for it, which is why we have increased (capacity of) the program,” said Kyla Ferns, communications officer for the Salvation Army.

New partners, including Starbucks and the B.C Chiropractic Association, have come on board to help expand the campaign’s reach by acting as depositories for donations and information sites, she said.

The program handed out 1,000 filled backpacks on Vancouver Island last year, including 250 in Greater Victoria.

More local takeup is expected this year, said Pat Humble, Salvation Army’s community ministries director.

“ A lot of people don’t even know we have this program,” he said.

The outreach team received good response when it set up a stand at a pair of recent Music in the Park events in Saanich, he said.

Backpacks are stuffed with such standard items as pens, pencils, paper, duotangs and binders, but Ferns said extra items such as markers, basic calculators and geometry sets really enhance the packages.

“But anything helps, even something as small as a package of pencils,” she said. “It all adds up.”

New school supplies or backpacks can be dropped off directly to the Stan Hagen Centre for Families at 2695 Quadra St.

Financial donations can be made at any of Greater Victoria’s three Staples stores, and those who text GIVEBC to 45678 will see $5 added to their monthly mobile phone bill and directed to the campaign.

The Drive runs until Sept. 11. For more information, visit salvationarmy.ca/britishcolumbia.

ddescoteau@vicnews.com