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Canada Newswire  07/17/2014 9:35 AM ET
Bell Aliant Backpacks for Kids program to send 12,000 kids in need back to school with new school supplies
  • Program eases back to school burden for families in need.
  • Since 2003, employees and retirees have provided more than 38,000 backpacks to elementary school children in Bell Aliant communities.  

HALIFAX, July 17, 2014 /CNW/ -  To mark the 12th anniversary of Backpacks for Kids, Bell Aliant President and CEO Karen Sheriff has issued a challenge to employees, retirees, volunteers, suppliers, customers   and the public: help send 12,000 elementary school children in need  back to school with the basic supplies  to start classes confident and ready to learn.  One hundred per cent of all funds raised go to purchasing school supplies, and  contributing  is easy.

Backpacks for Kids is an employee program that sees Bell Aliant purchase the backpacks while employees and retirees work together to raise money for the school supplies. Once the backpacks are filled, the focus shifts to logistics: getting backpacks into the hands of children and families before the first bell rings in the fall. Last year, more than 10,000 children in Atlantic Canada and regions of Ontario and Quebec benefitted from Bell Aliant backpacks, and once this year's goal is achieved, the program will have provided a total of 50,000 backpacks since 2003.

"The need for our backpacks program continues to grow. Thousands of kids already count on our support, and we know the need is still great. That's why this year, we're once again using all the resources at our disposal to meet our goal," said Karen Sheriff, Bell Aliant President and CEO. "Every year, I challenge our employees, Bell Aliant Pioneers, community partners and volunteers to fill more backpacks, and every year, we do it. Whether you fill a backpack or contribute a few dollars, every bit helps make back-to-school easier for families who need a helping hand.   "

The program grew from the idea that when thousands of individuals rally behind a cause, they can make a real difference. Since it began, Backpacks for Kids has seen approximately 38,000 backpacks delivered to children who otherwise would not have the supplies needed to start the school year on the right foot.

Backpacks for Kids began as an initiative of the Bell Aliant Pioneer Volunteers . They saw a need and started small, collecting school supplies for a few families. The program expanded from there. In partnership with the Pioneers in 2005, Backpacks for Kids was launched as a corporate program and has grown into one of Bell Aliant's most successful corporate community initiatives because of the passion and dedication of the people who support it.

Backpacks are distributed based on need identified by community partners. Examples of agencies include school districts, food banks, family support services and community centres.

"Without the backpacks from Bell Aliant, the Single Parents Association of Newfoundland would not be able help as many kids. Each year we provide close to 400 backpacks for children attending school in September," says Elaine Balsom, Project Coordinator at the Single Parents Association of Newfoundland. "The backpacks from Bell Aliant are of good quality and filled with the appropriate school supplies. Just to see the huge smiles on the children's faces when they come with their mom or dad to get their backpack says it all."

Save the Date On Thursday, August 21, Bell Aliant employees, Bell Aliant Pioneers, and community partners will deliver backpacks to community organizations and schools in Halifax, Moncton, Saint John, St. John's and Charlottetown. Full distribution will take place to all other communities in Bell Aliant territory from August 25 to August 29.

How to Contribute - This year, it's easier than ever to contribute to the program. Members of the public can donate online between July 7 and September 7 or by visiting participating Bell Aliant stores in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island where donations will be accepted between August 6 and September 7.    

One hundred per cent of money raised goes directly towards buying school supplies to fill the backpacks purchased by Bell Aliant.


SOURCE Bell Aliant Inc.


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