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.