A year ago, Gerardo Mancini had no clue his family would one day need a helping hand.
But on Tuesday, his family was among those who gathered at the Welcome Hall Mission for school supplies.
It’s the 16th year the mission is providing students in need with supplies for the new school year.
Hans St-Just, supervisor of the academic support program at the Mission, says the need increases every year.
“There are families every year that are faced with that challenge of providing supplies for their children when school starts,” St-Just explains.
Most of the families are immigrants who don’t speak English or French, which makes it hard for some of them to find jobs. In Montreal, about one in five children lives below the poverty line, and St-Just estimates the Mission will help about 2,600 of them this year.
“Unfortunately we are not able to supply everybody that would need, but those that are near us, we make sure that we supply for them,” St-Just said.
The supplies, which include school bags, writing materials, clothing and shoes, are distributed over two days. The mission provides supplies for kids from pre-school all the way up to secondary school.
Emmanuel Loua is one of the many volunteers from BNP Parabis who donate their time to help the Mission’s project.
“We show up at seven, half-past seven, already most of our guys were here,” he said.
Mancini is grateful for the Mission’s assistance, including school supplies for his daughter. He was used to a good life in Venezuela before the family lost everything.
“Now, we feel like people again,” he says of the Mission’s support. “We have our dignity.”