School uniform campaign launched with $80,000 target

The organisers of an annual back-to-school uniform campaign yesterday appealed to the public for $64,000 by the end of the week.

Organisers of the Each One Reach One Campaign, which helps families in need get school supplies for children returning to school, said that more than 700 people had applied for assistance.

Gina Spence, the founder of community group Gina Spence Productions, added that the organisation had raised $16,000 of the $80,000 needed.

But she said: “It’s not enough based on the number of applicants that we have.”

Ms Spence added: “If we can get 600 people to give $130 each, we’ll surpass our goal.

“If you believe in education and that every child deserves a fair chance to go to school then this is something you’ll want to get behind.”

The Each One Reach One Campaign was started with Gibbons Company on Hamilton’s Church Street to help families afford uniforms and other supplies for children returning to school.

The campaign, now in its ninth year, used to hand out gift cards and slightly-used school uniforms, but last year put all their efforts towards gift cards after the coronavirus pandemic made clothes exchanges unsafe.

Ms Spence said that the campaign would again focus on gift cards this year.

She added that applicants would be selected on a first come, first served basis.

Registration for packages closed at noon yesterday.

The campaign will offer six different gift cards, ranging in value from $112 to $148.

“First day of school” packages will have one uniform and one week packages will contain five days worth of clothes.

Water bottles and backpacks will also be offered in each package.

The financial target for last year’s campaign hit an all-time high when the organisers set a goal of $150,000 – twice as much as their original goal that year.

Ms Spence said at the time that unemployment caused by the pandemic had forced people out of their jobs and made the need for assistance more crucial than ever.

She added that, a year later, people were still in desperate need.

Ms Spence explained: “People just don’t have money or any disposable cash.

“That doesn’t mean they don’t work, just that some people are only working so many hours a day, which means they’re only getting a certain amount at the end of the week.”

Ms Spence said that the campaign had been given a total of $16,000 in donations from professional services firm Deloitte, insurance and reinsurance giant Chubb and law firm Conyers.

She appealed to businesses and churches to donate as well as members of the public.

Tony Thompson, the chief executive officer of Gibbons Company, said that people could donate at the store as well as on the Gina Spence Productions’ website.

Mr Thompson said: “Anyone can participate in donating – it doesn’t matter how small the denomination is or how large it is.”

He added: “I don’t want anyone to feel like these uniform packages are totally out of reach – you’re donating towards the gift card, not necessarily having to pay for the packages in full.

“If you can that’s great, but if you can’t then donate what you can.”

Donations must be made before close of business on Friday.

Packages will be handed out to families on Saturday at CedarBridge Academy in Devonshire.

Successful applicants will get a call or e-mail with details on how to collect their packages.

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