Generosity helps children during back to school time

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Volunteers from Swift Current salons helped out at Monday's Back to School Hair Cuts event hosted by the Parent Support Network, helping give students a fresh look for a return to classes next week.

The financial challenges of getting children ready for a return to classes was made a little easier during the second annual Back to School Days on Aug. 26.

Families were able to get back to school haircuts free of charge, while also picking up a new backpack filled with school supplies. Both opportunities were provided during an afternoon event at the Salvation Army on Monday afternoon.

The back to school haircut program began last year, with hair stylists volunteering their time and talents to help students look their best during the first day back to classes. This year a total of 40 children received a haircut during a three-hour afternoon appointment schedule with volunteers Diane Cole, Brenda Fisher, Kandace Kraway, Amanda Pilgrim, and Brandi Demers.

"The costs associated with going back to school - it's everything from school supplies, they need some clothes, there's a lot of administrative fees - it just piles up. At the end of the summer, when you've tried to have a nice, enjoyable summer, sometimes with your family there isn't always that extra cash. So it just supports the families that might need that," explained Elizabeth Laverdiere from the Family Advocacy Program.

The Family Advocacy Program and the Salvation Army's Family Services program both referred families from Swift Current and area to participate in the event, but the afternoon was open to anyone who wanted to access the program.

The Back to School Supply event is a continuing program where customers at Staples Office Depot can make cash donations or back to school item donations, and when combined with other private donations, students can pick up a new backpack and a full range of supplies for the first day of classes. This year's event helped provide back to school backpacks and items for 47 children.

"The families are very appreciative, very grateful," admitted Lorraine Jansen-Unrau, the Family Services Coordinator at the Salvation Army. "Being able to help people that struggle to be able to get their kids stuff to go back to school with. It's an expensive time of the year for people. And it's important for the kids to be able to have a haircut, new products that they can put in their backpacks. Parents can maybe have a little bit more for clothes."

Laverdiere added that thanks to the haircuts, the students also have a positive attitude when they walk into school for the first time of the new school year.

"You feel good. You look good. You're fresh and ready to start. Just eager to start the school year. It's the best foot forward for them for sure."

Geographic location: Swift Current

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