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Backpacks donated to schools throughout the valley

Allie Thompson, Women of Steel co-chair Sarah Thompson, Horace Allen School administrative assistant Cherie Snider and Women of Steel co-chair Jen Riley in front of the donated backpacks and supplies for the schools in the Crowsnest Pass. All three schools’ bags are featured in the photo in front of Horace Allen School on August 29. Nicholas L. M. Allen photo

Nicholas L. M. Allen

Aug 30, 2023

Women of Steel make annual donation of backpacks and school supplies.

The Women of Steel (WOS) have made their annual donation of backpacks and supplies to the Crowsnest Pass schools on the morning of August 29. They started the day at Horace Allen School (HAS) in Coleman at 9:30 a.m. and then moved on to CCHS and ISS.

Sarah Thompson, office administrator, WCB chair and WOS co-chair for USW Local 9346, said the process is like a “well-oiled machine” after 12 years. 

“We’ve been doing this for so long, the lists typically stay close to the same from school to school because we get the actual supply lists for each grade for each school, and we pack the backpacks according to that. When the kids go to school on their first day, they have everything they need, just like all their other friends,” said Thompson.

The purpose of the donations is to have all kids equal on the first day. This year, they did another 99 backpacks which was the same as the past two years. 

“We can’t hit everybody, but we do what we can,” said Thompson, “It cost just over $10,000 for all the supplies in the backpacks and all that money is fundraised.”

They host barbecues at the bus stop where the Elkview employees go on and off shift. They feed them supper, including burgers, chips and pop. 

We had a lot of support this year. We had to buy more burgers for our last barbecue. So, thanks to them and all the support from the staff and the contractors and all our members, it’s great to get the support,” added Thompson.

The project has support from other unions who donate and Teck, who donated $3,000 for the initiative. Of the 99 packs, 30 went to the Crowsnest Pass. Everything is anonymous, they don’t know or meet any of the families while donating.

“We reach out to the Sparwood Food Bank, the Fernie Woman’s Resource Centre, and the administration for the schools here in the Pass and they give us the needs,” explained Thompson.

The group said they are always looking for donations of supplies, including backpacks, paper and binders. For specialty items, they prefer to fill out the school list themselves if it is something specific. 

“We are kind of revamping our committee right now and hoping to get some new fresh blood and some more interest. Hopefully we can do other projects as well,” said Thompson. 

The WOS can be contacted at the Steelworker office in Sparwood, the phone number there is (250) 425-0131.

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