August 21, 2014 2:05 pm

Helping children in need get back to school

MONTREAL – The Poddubania family has been in Canada for less than a year.

Settling in is costly for new immigrants and back to school time is especially tough.

Gearing up can cost up to $600 per child.

This year though, the Poddubanias’ have decided to help cover their costs by using the Welcome Hall Mission‘s back-to-school program.

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“It’s important for new comers because the first year is very hard to find a good job,” said Iulia Poddubania.

“Now, for school there’s many things to buy especially if you have two kids or more. It’s a huge part of a family’s budget. This is really a big help for people like us, families like us.”

The program is targeted to help families living on or below the poverty line.

Each child walks away with a knapsack filled with supplies and a brand new pair of shoes.

The Mission’s goal is to set kids up for success.

“We want children to stay in school, that’s the idea behind this thing,” said Cyril Morgan, a spokesperson for the Welcome Hall Mission.

“If children get discouraged and they start off school on the wrong foot who knows what gong to happen. The longer they stay in school the better it is for their family.”

This is the tenth year the Welcome Hall Mission is putting on this event, and it keeps getting bigger.

Over at the On Rock food bank in the West Island, they’ve seen a 20 per cent increase in families using their services.

They don’t have school supplies to give out, but they try to deflect those costs by helping families stock up on food.

“We try and take care of that as much as possible so parents can concentrate as much as possible on what is not food related like school supplies and clothing,” said Kim Reid, a spokesperson for On Rock community services.

For many of these kids, especially those hitting their teen years, pressure to keep up in school is an added element of stress.

Keeping children happy and in school, for many of these foundations, is a first step to helping them escape the cycle of poverty.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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