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Fort Macleod FCSS hosts annual Back to School Connect

Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) director Angie O’Connor with packages of supplies to be handed out during Back to School Connect on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Fort Macleod families can connect with free school supplies and information about resources this week.

The annual Back to School Connect event runs Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Aug. 18-20 at the Family and Community Support Services office.

“We just want to help parents reduce their expenses a little bit,” FCSS director Angie O’Connor said.

FCSS has had to scale down Back to School Connect for the second consecutive year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rather than staging a large, one-day event at the arena, FCSS is distributing packages from its office at 424 20th St.

The free school supplies include items such as paper, dry erase markers, rulers, crayons and glue. FCSS consulted the supply lists from both W.A. Day and F.P. Walshe schools.

“We’re supplying some of the most commonly used items,” O’Connor said.

Families can drop by the FCSS office from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 18-20 to pick up packages for Kindergarten students, Grades 1-5, Grade 6-8 and Grades 9-12.

“They have different needs,” O’Connor said of the grade groupings. “Every grade has something a little different.”

Like last year, there is no free clothing exchange.

“With all the COVID uncertainty we weren’t able to do the planning and prep work for the clothing exchange,” O’Connor said.

The community resource component now consists of information from groups and agencies in the packages with school supplies.

Previously, representatives of agencies and groups would man booths during the one-day Back to School Connect.

Last year, FCSS distributed 492 packages to families.

“People are really appreciative,” O’Connor said. “People are so grateful for any sort of assistance. They really appreciate it.”

The supplies were all bought in Fort Macleod, supported by donations from Jon’s Independent Grocers and Fort Pharmacy.

FCSS is hopeful that with the public health restrictions lifted, Back to School Connect will return to its one-day format at the arena in 2022.

The community resource fair component would help people connect with supports, and the free clothing exhance is missed.

“People love it,” O’Connor said of the clothing exchange. “They find it so very helpful.”

FCSS will connect with the volunteer group who has organized the clothing exchange to find out if they are still interested.

“We can’t do it without the support of that great volunteer group,” O’Connor said. “They were just gems. They sorted it, cleaned it.”

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