Kids Helping Kids in Annual Start2Finish Backpack Packing Day

TORONTO, Aug. 21, 2012 /CNW/ - Start2Finish, in partnership with Canadian office solutions provider Grand & Toy, today kicks off its annual Backpack Program packing events at the Grand & Toy head office in Toronto. With the help of school boards and local administrators, the program identifies students with the greatest need in low-income communities across the nation and equips them with school supplies.  This helps even the playing field for these students and prepare them for a successful school year.

This year's Backpack Packing Days will be held in Toronto, Hamilton, Halifax and Calgary, where hundreds of corporate volunteers and community groups will pack 9,000 backpacks with school essentials.

Past Start2Finish scholarship recipients will join the Backpack Program packing events to give back to the program that has had such positive impact on their lives.

Navi*, a past backpack recipient, moved to Canada from Pakistan two months after 9/11. At the age of seven, Navi's father passed away, making it difficult for her mother as she provided for their family on a single income. Through the Start2Finish Pathway of Hope Scholarship Program, Navi received the support she needed to continue her education. Currently attending York University, Navi's giving back to the community along with the other scholarship recipients, by helping new students prepare for the school year ahead.

"The Start2Finish program had a significant and positive impact on my life at a time when it was most needed," Navi said. "Over the years the program has continued to reaffirm my belief that education is the pathway to ending child poverty."

Since 2003, Start2Finish has provided almost 18,000 students with backpacks, valued at more than $2.2 million. The demand for backpacks continues to rise as poverty remains an ongoing challenge faced by many students. This year, Start2Finish will donate close to 6,000 backpacks to 54 high needs schools in Toronto and another 3,220 across Canada.

"The Start2Finish Backpack Program is unlike any other program. It is a starting point for a comprehensive, year-long approach to eradicate low academic standards among Canada's 1 million children living in poverty," said Brian Warren, Executive Director and Founder of Start2Finish, and two-time Grey Cup champion. "We arm these children with tools to thrive and have seen the outstanding results firsthand as successful recipients return to help others."

Grand & Toy has partnered to support Start2Finish with its mission to break the cycle of child poverty by providing ongoing educational support to Canada's at risk children throughout their school years, nurturing mind, body and social health so they are empowered to succeed and become role models for change.

This outlook aligns directly with the Grand & Toy social responsibility mandate to "Be Better for Our Communities." A recent UNICEF report ranked Canada 12th in terms of child poverty of rates among economically advanced countries.

"Our work with Start2Finish is one way our employees can give back to the communities they work in," said Marla Allan, Vice President of Human Resources, Grand & Toy. "For our many hundreds of volunteers, the Backpack Program is an important reminder of what is at stake for thousands of Canadian children each year."

The various Start2Finish programs have positively impacted over 60,000 children across Canada. In partnership with Grand & Toy, the Backpack Program continues to help thousands of children annually and is growing thanks to an increase in support in the form of time, supplies and in-kind services.

Backpack packing events are being held in Hamilton on August 22nd; Halifax (Dartmouth) on August 23rd; and Calgary on August 28th. Full details for each event can be found here: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1022835/media-advisory-annual-start2finish-backpacking-event-prepares-students-for-the-year-ahead

NOTE: Photo opportunities at each event include VIP attendees and spokespeople, past scholarship recipients, and volunteers preparing backpacks.

About Start2Finish
Start2Finish is a national nonprofit organization that works to empower children of low-income families through an innovative fitness and literacy model. Established in 2000 as KidsFest and rebranded to Start2Finish in 2011, it is supported by donors and volunteers, and sponsored by Wonder+, Grand & Toy, Scotiabank, George Weston Limited and TD Canada Trust. For more information on Start2Finish programs or volunteering please visit: www.start2finishonline.org.

About Grand & Toy
With a heritage that dates back to 1882, today's Grand & Toy is committed to offering sustainable solutions to Canadian business in the areas of interiors, technology, and imaging in addition to office and facility supplies. We operate one of the country's largest distribution networks serving clients coast-to-coast. Grand & Toy also demonstrates a firm commitment to corporate social responsibility through a comprehensive sustainability strategy that's manifested through numerous internal and external environmental and social outreach programs. For more information, visit grandandtoy.com.

*Navi's name has been changed to protect her identity.

SOURCE: Start2Finish

For further information:

MEDIA CONTACT:
For more information, contact:
Michelle Wray
Director of Volunteer and Community Relations, Start2Finish
michelle.wray@start2finishonline.org
1-888-320-8844 ext. 206

Jill Yetman
Senior Consultant, Environics Communications, Inc. (for Grand & Toy)
jyetman@environicspr.com
416-920-9000 ext. 2722