Back to School With Confidence!

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For many, Back to School shopping is exciting. But for those who are living in poverty, the Back to School season can be an extremely stressful time of the year. Affording the yearly cost of school supplies like backpacks and new clothes is extremely challenging, and sometimes impossible, for many families in Edmonton.

Tracey, mom of Stephen (5) and Ciara (2), knows this reality all too well.

After moving to Edmonton from St. Johns Newfoundland 5 years ago, Tracey was stunned with the expense of living costs and still finds herself struggling to make ends meet.

“We don’t have much to spend outside of living costs. My family uses the food bank every month, and we come to Bissell Centre to get clothes.”


Tracey and her family have been utilizing Bissell Centre’s childcare program for 2 and a half years. “We have been coming to Bissell Centre’s childcare since Stephen was 3 and Ciara was 8 months,” she recounts. “I first heard about Bissell Centre from a friend of mine who told me about the childcare here.” Although she doesn’t have any family in Edmonton, Tracey thinks of Bissell Centre as a support system for her and her family.

“At Bissell Centre, you always have people to take care of your kids that you trust. It feels nice to be able to leave them at daycare to go to a doctor’s appointment and not have to worry.”

During the Back to School season, Bissell Centre’s Family Closet equips families like Tracey’s with clothing, backpacks, and other supplies so that their children can start the school year off with confidence.

Last year, when her son Stephen was going into Kindergarten, Tracey relied heavily on the family closet to get him equipped with new clothes, sneakers, winter boots, a book bag, and other supplies for the school year. “New clothing definitely increased Stephen’s confidence,” she said.

The family closet also supplies Tracey’s family with baby clothes and products, hygiene products such as shampoo and conditioner, and seasonal clothes for the entire family such as winter jackets.

“Kids grow out of clothes really fast. Being a parent is expensive. If the family closet didn’t exist, I don’t know what I’d do.”

With access to childcare, clothing, and other supplies from Bissell Centre, Tracey is able to provide her family with a better life.

Return to Bissell’s Early Learning & Child Care Project
Early Learning & Child Care

Out in the Cold: The Harsh Realities of Homelessness During Winter

Being homeless is difficult enough when the weather is fair, but when temperatures drop, it becomes a matter of survival. The threat of serious illness, loss of fingers or toes, or even losing one’s life become serious concerns when temperatures nosedive. These threats are particularly potent here in Edmonton, where winters are notoriously harsh and wind chills can be extreme.

Edmonton’s homeless are more likely than most to experience dangerous cold-related injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia. They have few spaces to retreat from the cold, nor can they afford proper winter clothing that will protect them from the elements.

Here at Bissell Centre, we believe every person has the right to have basic human needs satisfied. Our Drop-in Centre provides a safe, warm space for people to escape the elements and enjoy a hot meal. Inside the Drop-in, people can also access free, warm winter clothing through our Community Closet. The Closet is especially busy in the winter when we distribute jackets, sweaters, scarves, toques, mittens, boots to every person in need who visits.

Helping people take care of their basic needs is only the first, but a necessary step, in helping people access programs that will move them out of poverty.

None of this would be possible, however, without our community of supporters who donate time, funds, and resources to our operations. Thank you for supporting Bissell Centre, and for helping the most vulnerable people in our community stay warm and safe this winter.

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