From right, Shelley Howe, Sunny Gill and Ben Challis load hundreds of backpacks into a vehicle as part of We Got Your Back on Wednesday morning. The back-to-school program, run by Staples and Murray Honda, is giving backpacks full of school supplies to 1,000 students in need from Chilliwack to Boston Bar. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Backpack program provides kids from Chilliwack to Boston Bar with tools to learn

We Got Your Back is a back-to-school program run by Honda and Staples for underprivileged kids

No child in this community will go to school empty-handed.

That’s the motto of We Got Your Back, a back-to-school program run by Staples and Murray Honda that provides underprivileged grade school students with the tools to learn.

This year marks the sixth year for the partnership with the two local businesses and over the years they’ve handed out thousands of backpacks filled with pencils, paper, pens, binders and other school supplies. This year they put together 1,000 backpacks.

Working together, Staples and Honda are able to connect directly with the Chilliwack School District and the Fraser Cascade School District to make the program successful. The districts collect information from the schools as far as the number of students (and their age) who are in need of school supplies. The districts then hand that info over to Justin Mallard, community engagement manager with Murray Honda.

“We’re setting them up for success,” said Cathy Muzzolini, district manager for Staples. “They’re able to go in [to school] and have what all the other children are coming to school with.”

On Wednesday, the team delivered nearly half of the backpacks to schools on the north side of the highway. Thursday deliveries are scheduled for Sardis, and on Friday they head out to Agassiz, Hope and Boston Bar.

Ben Challis of Staples helps load backpacks into a vehicle as part of We Got Your Back on Wednesday morning. The back-to-school program, run by Staples and Murray Honda, is giving backpacks full of school supplies to 1,000 students in need from Chilliwack to Boston Bar. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

A team of 40 volunteers packed the 1,000 backpacks full of school supplies last week. Over the years they’ve gotten more efficient with their backpack-stuffing system.

“We’ve gotten so much better at it. It is a true assembly line. They are in and out in an hour and a half,” said Shelley Howe, general manager of Staples in Chilliwack.

Those 40 people are just some of the folks who’ve helped out. Other volunteers have been delivering the backpacks to the schools this week, plus cash donations have been pouring in from local businesses and Staples customers.

“A better part of half of [the donations] are coming from customers coming in the store,” adds Howe. “I think it’s a true sign of a community wanting to come together, and that’s what this community does every year. We appreciate it immensely.”

Each backpack filled with supplies costs around $35 to $50 depending on whether the student is in elementary, middle or high school.

In addition to We Got Your Back, Murray Honda also has its Coats For Kids and Boots For Kids programs in winter.

“I’ve been part of these programs for the last seven years. I live and breathe them every single year and I still get butterflies in my stomach and I get goosebumps on my arms,” said Mallard.

And there’s still time to donate to We Got Your Back. For the next two weeks, Staples will be collecting donations at its store on Vedder Road.

“As a child who once lived in poverty, having the ability to be part of facilitating good within our community and supporting kids in need is truly heart-warming,” said Mallard. “Knowing the impact firsthand of someone’s generosity is all a child needs to know they matter and are supported.”

READ MORE: Another successful year for Chilliwack’s ‘We Got Your Back’ backpack program

READ MORE: Boots For Kids warms children’s feet and hearts from Chilliwack to Boston Bar


 

@PhotoJennalism
jenna.hauck@theprogress.com

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Ben Challis of Staples hauls out one of three pallets full of backpacks as part of We Got Your Back. The back-to-school program, run by Staples and Murray Honda, is giving backpacks full of school supplies to 1,000 students in need from Chilliwack to Boston Bar. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Shelley Howe, general manager at Staples in Chilliwack, helps load hundreds of backpacks into a vehicle as part of We Got Your Back on Wednesday morning. The back-to-school program, run by Staples and Murray Honda, is giving backpacks full of school supplies to 1,000 students in need from Chilliwack to Boston Bar. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Volunteers carry backpacks into Bernard elementary as part of We Got Your Back on Wednesday morning. The back-to-school program, run by Staples and Murray Honda, is giving backpacks full of school supplies to 1,000 students in need from Chilliwack to Boston Bar. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Justin Mallard (centre, in blue) chats with Bernard elementary principal Brad Johnston as folks from Honda, Staples and other volunteers deliver backpacks to schools Wednesday morning as part of We Got Your Back. The back-to-school program, run by Staples and Murray Honda, is giving backpacks full of school supplies to 1,000 students in need from Chilliwack to Boston Bar. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

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