© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Retired principal Lloyd Mallard, left, holds some of the school supplies collected during a barbecue in support of The Guardian's Stuff for Students campaign. From left: Mallard, Wade Clements, Janet Clements, James Johnston and Alex Johnston.
Starting the first day of school on equal footing can make a huge difference for young students.
That’s why Janet and Wade Clements have held an annual barbecue for the past several years supporting The Guardian’s Stuff for Students program.
The barbecue, which saw its fifth year on Saturday, asks guests to bring school supplies rather than food.
By the time hamburgers and hotdogs were served Saturday evening, the Clements’ living room was filled with their biggest donation yet and included everything from backpacks, lunch kits, scribblers, pens and pencils to glue and markers.
“I couldn’t believe how much was in our living room this evening. It was just phenomenal,” said Janet. “There’s just a big need out there and we’ve all been kids. It’s good to help them so they can all go in as equals on the first day of school.”
The amount collected by the group was enough to fill a Guardian SUV.
Clements said there were many people who were not able to attend the barbecue but sent along a donation. The crowd who did show up included family and friends, including some from as far away as Ontario. There was also a Japanese exchange student and several teachers.
Retired principal Lloyd Mallard was one group member who has seen first-hand the difference of having school supplies makes for a young student.
After spending 35 years in a number of Island schools, Mallard said every year he saw a need among students.
“There are so many kids that don’t have supplies and it stops them from being embarrassed,” said Mallard. “They don’t have to say, ‘I haven’t got it today,’ when people like us are able supply that to them.”
While this year’s barbecue is now over, Janet said the group is planning to continue the endeavour.
“We’ll be back next year again.”
The Guardian is still accepting donations for Stuff for Students. Donations can be left at Sobeys West Royalty, Allen St., Stratford or at The Guardian office at 165 Prince St. The newspaper makes an additional cash donation — as do many readers — to buy additional school supplies.
For more information about donating, contact Tracy Stretch at 902-629-6866. Those who wish to receive items via The Guardian’s Stuff for Student program are asked to call 902-892-8870.