With school starting one week from today, the Stock the Lockers campaign is in its final push in the Ladysmith area.
For the finale, Stock the Lockers representatives will be at Pharmasave in Ladysmith this Friday (Aug. 31) from noon to 4 p.m., sharing information about the campaign, which is run through the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation (NLSF) and raises money to equip students for school, and accepting donations to help ensure Ladysmith-area students have everything they need to get through the coming school year.
“We’re very pleased to have one last hurrah,” said Ladysmith volunteer Mimi Zuyderduyn. “We’re thrilled with the response. We’re so excited for the opportunity to do this. People are so supportive because kids are such a worthwhile project.”
Speaking to Ladysmith council earlier this month, Zuyderduyn explained that in previous years, there was a backpack program through the food bank, “but it didn’t really meet the needs.”
When Zuyderduyn and Delana Sword came forward to take over the backpack program, they discovered that the NLSF was already running Stock the Lockers, so they got behind that campaign and began trying to raise the profile in Ladysmith, explained Zuyderduyn.
“We’re looking forward to showing Ladysmith students that they really matter — they are our future,” she said.
Zuyderduyn and Sword both came forward to volunteer for this campaign when a plea came to their church, Ladysmith First United.
“Our fellow church members have been so supportive with us to raise money for our children,” said Zuyderduyn. “And thank you Ladysmith people for your support and investment in our future, our children.”
Zuyderduyn and Sword had set a goal of raising $4,000 by the end of August, and Zuyderduyn thinks they had almost reached their goal by the end of last weekend. With support from local groups like the Eagles and the Legion, she expects they will even exceed their goal.
Delana came up with the $4,000 goal, explained Zuyderduyn.
“She thought that would be a good amount to meet the extra needs children might have and have a little discretionary fund,” she said. “One of the principals said that 30 per cent of the students in the school do need financial help. Anything is a plus.”
As a school teacher and counsellor, Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins saw how the Stock the Lockers program helped students by providing necessities such as running shoes.
“I’ve been involved with the program for many years as a teacher and a counsellor and, believe me, it helps,” he said. “In 1986, I was teaching at the primary school, and I had seven children in the class who didn’t have runners. So it’s been a great benefit, not just for school supplies — school supplies are absolutely essential, but also other necessities for gym, sports activities, that kind of stuff.”
Last year, they had to buy glasses for one student whose parents couldn’t afford them, noted Zuyderduyn.
The Town of Ladysmith has proclaimed August as Stock the Lockers Month, and Stock the Lockers donation canisters have been set up at churches in town, Ladysmith and District Credit Union, the Bank of Montreal and other local businesses.
Charitable receipts are available for donations that are more than $20.