Backpack campaign underway

Summer reporter
Stephanie Hagenaars

It is now August and we all know what that means–it’s back to school season.
And to bring in the new school year with a bang, the annual “Backpacks for Kids” campaign is underway, inviting the public to drop off supplies, backpacks or cash donations for any age group from K-12 at M. Wu Dentistry at 1201 Colonization Rd. West.
A donation bin and cash donation boxes are also set up at The Bargain Shop on Scott Street.
Alternatively, those unable to make a drop off at either location can call Dr. Wu’s office at 274-5365 and ask for Kathy Lampi or Ashley Sisco to arrange a pick up.
Supplies can include anything from pencils, erasers and pens to binders, lunch bags and water bottles.
Lampi, who works at M. Wu Denistry, said they are looking for “whatever gives kids a good start for school.”The campaign began in July and will be accepting donations until Aug. 25.
Just a few weeks into the campaign, and the backpacks are already beginning to fill the staff office.
Lampi added they also had a single donation of 12 backpacks recently–all stuffed with supplies.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “People are so generous in this area.”Last year, the office collected 181 filled backpacks, blowing the previous year’s number of 110 out of the water.
“This was crazy in here,” said Lampi. “There was no where to sit. . .
“We want to supersede that this year for sure. Every year you want to do a little better, right?”
In the past, donations have been made in bulk by businesses, groups or individuals.
And the staff at M. Wu Dentistry always like to show appreciation for those who make donations.
“Whenever we do get donations from people that are willing to take a photo, we do give them great thanks on social media just because we do appreciate everything they do,” said Sisco, who also works at M. Wu Denistry.
Also coming back this year is the “Stuff the Bus” campaign on Saturday, Aug. 11 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Walmart parking lot, and is coordinated again by Camie Gray of Iron Range Bus Lines.
Lampi said last year worked out really well as they had a few carts set up by the entrance and Gray’s granddaughter passed out flyers to shoppers as they entered the store.
“She would hand them out to everybody, and then people went in and shopped, they’d come out and they’d just drop things in the basket and we’d take it to the bus,” she said.
Those just passing through town or vacationing in the area also donated during the “Stuff the Bus” campaign.
“The American tourists last year were unbelievable,” said Lampi. “It went really well.”
All of the cash donations received will go towards purchasing additional supplies and backpacks.
“Whatever we have for cash, we go and, whatever’s on sale we try and get so that we can spread it out more,” said Sisco.
Once the campaign is over, the filled backpacks will be delivered to Children and Family Services and Weech-it-te-win where they will be distributed to families before the school year begins.
Anyone in the area can give their centre a call to request a backpack.
Lampi said families don’t necessarily have to be on welfare or social assistance programs–sometimes parents can just use the help.
“I know when my kids were little–it’s a struggle,” she said. “Everything is so expensive and you got enough to worry about buying groceries and clothes and all the rest of it.
“So, this way, [it] takes a lot of pressure off.”
Those looking to add their name to the list for a backpack(s) can call the Kenora-Rainy River District Child and Family Services at 274-7787 or Weech-it-te-win Family Services at 274-3201.