The Backpack Project helps give Sault-area students the supplies they need


SAULT STE. MARY – Students in Chippewa County will be able to receive help with backpacks and other school supplies through local donations before the start of the semester in September.

Project Backpack has been an annual giving event run by the Salvation Army and United Way of the Eastern Upper Peninsula for years and has provided school supplies to hundreds of students.

The giveaway begins at 2 p.m. and lasts until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, August 9 at Pickford Town Hall. The second day of distribution is in Sault Ste. Marie from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, August 12 at the AJ Van Critters Athletic Field.

The distribution event takes place on these days, but additional supplies will still be distributed afterwards.

“United Way keeps surplus supplies, so during the school year a student or teacher can contact them and say, ‘I need supplies,'” said Eric Gilbert, Administrator of the Salvation Army Corps. “It goes beyond just the one-day distribution. As long as there are supplies there, they are coming to schools.”

Students who wish to participate in the competition will receive a free backpack filled with school supplies like pencil cases, rulers, multicolored file folders and other supplies. The giveaway event also includes a free hot dog lunch for students.

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Supplies come from donations made to the Salvation Army and the United Way, either directly or through their various community partners. People have and still can donate not only money, but also self-supply if they are in good enough condition.

United Way and The Salvation Army have teamed up with Smith & Co. Realty, Bayliss Public Library and Central Savings Bank to fund and publicize this event. People were lucky enough to donate for this program through one of these organizations.

“It’s not just one organization puffing out its chest,” Gilbert said. “It’s about different organizations coming together to help the community, and that’s what our goal is.”

In total, over $10,000 was raised for this program and it will provide approximately 500 students from preschool through middle school with the supplies they need.

After the gift giving events are over, United Way will take the remaining supplies and continue to distribute them to local Chippewa County schools throughout the year as supplies are needed.

“Based on how the cost of living has gone up so much over the last 12 months with rising food and gas prices, and even the rent is now very high,” Gilbert said. “I think a lot of people’s budgets are stretched and so those in the community who can afford to donate supplies or money to help families who need to give their children the right tools to can go to school and learn is a great thing.”

Donations for the program are still accepted on line.

Contact Brendan Wiesner: BWiesner@Sooeveningnews.com

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