The United Way of Bruce Grey is appealing to the public for badly needed donations.
"As we head into the end of the year, we are significantly below our fundraising goals for our Backpack Program," explained Francesca Dobbyn, executive director. "We didn't receive summer student funding, but we still needed the summer student to run the program, and some of our fundraising efforts came in lower than expected."
If the United Way can't make up the $20,000 shortfall, the costs will come out of general revenue which could impact other programming for 2020.
Despite having wholesale relationships with manufactures which provides low cost school supplies, the cost of the program has increased in the past few years, along with the demand.
"For years we hovered around 2000 backpacks, but the last three years we've been over 2300," Dobbyn worries.
As an example the binders used in the program used to cost 99 cents, now they are over $2 each. The last three years has seen a 24 percent increase in the number of high school requests. The high school backpacks require the most product resulting in higher costs. In 2019 615 high school students received a backpack.
"We know that graduation rates are a true indicator of poverty-proofing," Dobbyn said. "We need to ensure that kids finish high school, and having the right tools, not being a victim of poverty based bulling, all contribute to students staying in school and being successful in graduating."
The United Way is issuing an this appeal in an effort to close the gap. Tax receipts are provided for all donations.
Donations can be made through www.donatetoday.ca or by calling 519-376-1560 or dropping in the office at 380 9th Street East |Owen Sound. Cheques can be mailed to 380 9th street east Owen Sound N4K 1P1, as long as the post mark is December 31st, donors can be receipted in the 2019 year.