We're just a few weeks out from our kiddos stepping into their next school year. My daughter's going into Grade Two, and we've got a full shopping list from her school of the supplies she'll need.
We're lucky. The only thing we've got standing in our way is the time and mental fortitude needed to hunt down everything she needs (please send luck as we search for four exact colours of duotangs and weirdly specific scissors - pointed tip, junior size).
Other families aren't so fortunate. In Edmonton, Alberta, where we live, up to 8 in 10 families face affordability barriers to the school supplies they need. This is why we're supporting United Way Alberta Capital Region's Tools For Schools campaign as it works to supply tens of thousands of kids with essential supplies as they return to the classroom. Every backpack will contain, along with school supplies, a cloth Unbelts mask.
You can help, too.
United Way Tools for School programs operate independently across North America. Google "United Way Tools for School" to find a TFS campaign in your area, or click here if you live in the Alberta Capital Region like us: https://www.myunitedway.ca/tools-for-school/ Once you're on the page, you'll find a link to donate dollars online (to be used to purchase supplies), and donation locations to drop off supplies and new backpacks. (Here in the Alberta Capital Region, Staples stores are accepting drop-offs and in-store donations.)
Why is Unbelts donating masks? Are those... still a thing?
Heck yes. Masks were a new idea for most North Americans when the pandemic hit, but when I lived in East Asia from 2008 to 2014, it was perfectly normal to see cloth masks at schools, in the workplace, or on public transportation - they're just a signal that the wearer has the sniffles or doesn't want to get them. We're really happy to be working with United Way on normalizing masks as a neighbourly way to keep our classrooms and communities healthy during the school year and flu season.
My kids need school supplies. How can I get a Tools for Schools backpack for them?
In Canada - reach out to your school administrator and ask if they participate in a Tools for School program. If they do, they'll have steps for you to follow; if they don't yet, ask them to email their local United Way to ask how to take part. In the U.S., start by Googling "United Way Tools for School + your state" - a campaign page will explain how to get started.
I like the idea of using masks as a flu/sniffles prevention tool. How can I buy some?
We've created a Stay Well Mask Kit