Groups work to help parents and caregivers get school supplies amid record inflation in Prince Edward Island
As announced earlier this year, the Government of P.E.I. provides free basic school supplies to 15,900 K-9 students in Island public schools.
But with the province’s inflation rate leading the country, community groups are scrambling to help parents and caregivers get supplies for high school students, who aren’t covered, and some of the items of the most expensive back to school for all ages.
“This is a great initiative,” said Norbert Carpenter, Director of the PEI Public Schools Branch. “K-9, basic supplies – paper, pens, pencils – all of these types of supplies are provided at the school level and will be there.”
We want people to remember that there are also a lot of high school students who need help.— Mike MacDonald, Upper Cenacle Hospitality Ministry
More expensive back-to-school items are not included, however.
“Things like indoor shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes … if you need headphones or a calculator, they have to be provided by the parents,” he said.
Calls for donations
At the Upper Room Hospitality Ministry in Charlottetown, executive director Mike MacDonald said they always get requests at this time of year for school supplies. He expects less this year, however, due to provincial funding for K-9.
Still, he urges people not to forget children in grades 10, 11 and 12.
“This is a great initiative from the provincial government and we are extremely happy and excited about it,” MacDonald said.
“But we want people to remember that there are a lot of high school students who also need help.”
“School supplies [for high school students] may look a little different from what we would buy for elementary or even junior high school students, but they definitely need binders, paper, doodles, pens and pencils,” he said. .
MacDonald said the Upper Room had already received donations, but that wasn’t enough to meet the demand from high schools.
He is also hoping for donations of lunch boxes and backpacks for all ages.
The rising cost of living
The Salvation Army is also working to help provide supplies for the upcoming school year.
“This year, because the government is looking after K-9, it actually frees us up to put more resources into high school, which is great,” said Lt. John Burton of the Charlottetown Community Church.
All aspects of family life, the cost has increased.—Lieutenant John Burton, Charlottetown Community Church
He said the Salvation Army is seeing an increased need from families trying to cope with the rising cost of everything from food to utilities to housing.
“All aspects of family life, the cost has gone up. So people are really struggling and we’re just trying to help with some of that,” Burton said.
“You want your child to compete as well as they can in school and be on an equal footing with other children, and my research shows that it costs between $100 and $120 for these school supplies. for an average student – and that’s for elementary school.”
Burton said once kids hit high school, even basic school necessities become more expensive, in part because more stuff is needed.
“In high school, they look for things like mechanical pencils and number 2 pencils and various types of markers and pens,” he said. “But also on the list are things like subject divider notebooks and binders, printer paper, graph paper, lined paper.
“And depending on the student, some of them even like to have weekly planners…scientific calculators and three-ring punches that they need to keep track of all their schoolwork. So it can add up.”
“As many items as possible”
As part of the Salvation Army National Backpack Campaign, the church is also collecting backpack donations for students of all ages.
Burton said people can donate new or very lightly used school supplies and backpacks until Wednesday August 24 at the Salvation Army office on Fitzroy Street.
After that, from August 25 to September 6, the church will distribute the supplies to families in need. People who want to ask for help can call the church office, let them know how many children they have and organize a day during this time and pick up their supplies.
“We just want to collect as many items as possible and help out as much as we can, and if we have any left, we’ll contact the schools,” he said. “We don’t want to see anything unused.”
The first day of public school in PEI. is Tuesday, September 7.