August 22, 2014 5:38 pm

Salvation Army backpack program helps hundreds of students

Watch above: Kids receive new back-to-school backpacks

SASKATOON – It’s a cost that comes up every year but for many families working on a tight budget, it could mean the difference between putting food on the table or buying much needed school supplies.

To help fill that void, the Saskatoon Salvation Army started a backpack program, giving over 500 underprivileged students backpacks full of school supplies.

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Teaming up with Staples, Millennium III Group of Companies and a private donor, each backpack is filled with school supplies catering to each child’s school supply list.

Global News was there when Jarett and Jaden Kinequon received their backpacks and the excitement was evident as each boy dove into their packs sorting through all the goodies inside as though it were Christmas.

“The binders, I like the binders,” said Jaden Kinequon, who will be in entering grade seven this fall.

“I like this backpack and it’s comfortable on my back,” added Jarett Kinequon, who is looking forward to gym as well as art class.

Spending above and beyond their budget this year, Salvation Army officials say the program has grown 50 fold since its launch in 2010 and the need is greater than ever this year.

“It is unfortunate that the need is there but because of our donations it increases every year and we’re able to fill that need,” said Heather Hedstrom, community and donor relations advisor for the Salvation Army.

Families have to meet a financial criteria in order to receive a backpack and live in Saskatoon or the surrounding area.

“Everyone knows school supplies are going to come up and you’re going to have to pay for them but it doesn’t mean your going to have the money,” explained Hedstrom.

According to Hedstrom, parents will spend up to $75 per child on school supplies this year.

“This has really saved us a lot of money and helps in the long run,” said Della Kinequon. Living on one income and paycheck to paycheck, Della calls the program a godsend and will be able to put the money towards other things.

“I know it would go right to bills and some new clothing for them and footwear.”

A weight off this mom’s shoulders and a benefit to the boys.

“You can literally see the confidence increase, you can just see it in their eyes, they’re excited to go back and when you’re excited to go back to school, you’re willing and open to learning,” said Hedstrom.

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