For immediate release

Annual Backpack Program encourages community to help local children and youth
United Way collecting donations of backpacks, school supplies and funds to set students up for success

KINGSTON, ON (July 4, 2023) – With the latest school year in the books, it is never too early to think about supporting students for the upcoming school year. Going back to school comes with lots of excitement and anticipation; it can also be an anxious and stressful time for many families on low-income as they do their best to set their children up for success.

The Backpack Program is coordinated through the United Way KFL&A, with donations from individuals, community businesses and organizations.  The program distributes backpacks and school supplies to ensure that families and children have all they need for a successful school year.

In 2022, thanks to the community’s generosity and support, 1,400 children and youth started the school year with supplies and backpacks.

“We are so thankful to United Way and our community for the backpacks filled with school supplies for children headed back to school,” said a representative from Kingston Interval House. “We immediately handed them out and one mom was very teary-eyed when getting hers and so grateful.”

It is estimated that for basic supplies (a backpack, lunch bag, binders, pens, pencils, and a calculator), the cost per student ranges from $200 to $300 for school supplies. With rising costs and inflation, needs are expected to be high again this year.

“Costs are high and we know that one in four Canadians are using or will need to use charitable services over the next year for basic necessities,” said Bhavana Varma, President and CEO, United Way KFL&A. “We are asking our community to come together to help children and youth. It may be as simple as picking up a few extra pieces when you do your own shopping, a financial donation or the donation of supplies and backpacks. However you choose to give, you will be helping so many children and families start the school year off right.”

Once supplies are collected, volunteers will start packing backpacks mid-August for distribution through agencies and schools before the new school year begins.

The most needed school supplies include backpacks, lunch bags, pens, pencils, rulers, math sets, markers, crayons, scientific calculators and pencil cases. Gender-neutral colours are encouraged wherever possible.

For a full list of recommended items by age group, or to donate monetarily, community members can visit

Items can be dropped off at:
United Way office –  417 Bagot Street
Monday to Friday from 8:30am -4:30pm
until August 11, 2023

About The Backpack Program
The program has been running for twenty-two years in KFL&A.  Initially set up by the Social Issues Networking Group (SING) with support from the United Way KFL&A and other organizations, the program worked for 19 years to ensure that families and children received backpacks and school supplies.

In 2020, with pandemic restrictions in place, United Way KFL&A took on the Backpack Program, collecting supplies from community members, workplaces, and businesses and distributed these through schools and agencies. More than 1,400 backpacks were distributed in 2022.

About United Way KFL&A
United Way Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington works closely with community partners to ensure that people have the opportunity to reach their full potential and live with hope, dignity, and a sense of belonging. This vision is realized by building on deep-rooted local community knowledge and relationships to empower people to make an impact. 

The United Way raises funds for programs that support immediate needs while also tackling complex social issues collaboratively. Led by volunteers, driven by a small professional staff team, the United Way KFL&A is a unifying force, encouraging people to get involved to support our most vulnerable.

United Way KFL&A has once again made the Top 100 Charities in Canada List for according to rankings from Charity Intelligence, a position have held for the past five years. United Way KFL&A received high rankings in results reporting and financial transparency.

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Media Contact:

Mandy Pasch, Director, Marketing and Communications
United Way KFL&A