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Tools for School

by Lauren Gilley / Edmonton Oilers
A bright morning set the tone for the United Way’s Tools for School launch on Tuesday as a group of supporters gathered outside the Staples Windermere location to kick-off the annual campaign.

While students are still basking in the glow of summer holidays, the United Way and its partners are working diligently to ensure every student in Oil Country will have the school supplies required for their inevitable return to school in the fall.

Aimed at providing backpacks and school supplies to youth around the Alberta Capital Region who might otherwise go without, the Tools for School program has been a pillar of the United Way’s commitment to the community for 19 years. Last year, over 9,700 school kits were distributed, allowing the recipients to start the year off on the right foot.

Three years ago, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) jumped at the chance to support the program and committed $75,000 to go towards the purchase of backpacks.

“We’re delighted to be a part of this program,” said Natalie Minckler, Executive Director of the EOCF. “Tools for School fits perfectly with our mandate of youth education and youth health and wellness so this is something we are very, very proud to participate in.”

Aside from contributing financially, the EOCF and Oilers staff played a role in packing the school kits before distribution. Nearly 20 staff members from the Oilers office visited the United Way’s InKind Exchange centre last August to fill over 650 backpacks with paper, pencils, binders, highlighters and everything else a student might need to excel in the classroom.

“We always invite the community to give us a call if they have a group of friends that they’d like to build backpacks with,” said Jenn Dermott, Program Coordinator for the United Way. “You can also donate online or give a product or monetary donation at any Staples location between July 16 and August 31.”

To learn more about the United Way’s Tools for School program, and to donate to the initiative, please visit

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