Effects of COVID-19 linger as Best First Day backpack drive launches

Posted On Wednesday August 03, 2022

As pandemic restrictions lift, the financial struggles that students and their families in the community endured as a result of COVID-19 are still present, creating challenges for the upcoming school year.

The Thames Valley Education Foundation (TVEF) along with United Way Elgin Middlesex, and The Salvation Army London Community and Family Services have once again partnered together for this year’s Best First Day community-wide backpack drive.

This initiative, which has been around for more than 20 years, is even more important now as the need for support like this has drastically increased over the last few years.

“Best First Day’s goal is to provide support to the families that need it so they can focus on their basic needs. says Jackie Ellefsen, Thames Valley Education Foundation lead.

“The reality is that backpacks and supplies cost money and for some families that cost is weighed against buying food, clothing, or shelter. We want to lift some of that burden and do our best to ensure that every student walks into class in September with the supplies they need to learn,” said Ellefsen.

Last year, over 3,200 backpacks packed filled with school supplies were distributed to students at the Thames Valley District School Board, London District Catholic School Board, Indigenous communitiesandwomen’s shelters in London.

This year’s drive aims to packover 4,000 backpacks for students in London, Elgin, Middlesex, and Oxford counties.

“This drive really makes a difference to the kids who need it,” says Kelly Ziegner, President and CEO of United Way Elgin Middlesex, “Thanks to the generosity of area businesses, individuals and volunteers, we can provide thousands of kids with those basic items they need to start the school year off right.”

Donations are being accepted until Friday, September 2, 2022.

Visit bestfirstday.ca for information on donating supplies or cash, drop-off locations, and volunteering.

Students, families, and guardians interested in picking up a backpack are asked to contact their school principal to make a request.



More information

Jackie Ellefsen

Executive Director/Development Officer

Thames Valley Education Foundation/Thames Valley District School Board

519.452.2000 x20202                j.ellefsen@tvdsb.ca


Jennifer Wain

Director, Communications & Donor Experience

United Way Elgin Middlesex

519-438-1723 ext. 228              JWain@unitedwayem.ca


Rebecca Thiessen

Integrated Missions Manager

The Salvation Army London Community and Family Services

519-617-0678                rebecca.thiessen@salvationarmy.ca


Thames Valley Education Foundation

Formed in 2001, the Thames Valley Education Foundation is a registered charitable organization and the fundraising arm of the Thames Valley District School Board. We exist to foster support from the community to create an exemplary public education system where every student has the support they need to be their best selves. Our funding comes from local organizations and businesses, grants, and the generous citizens who wish to support us in our mission to enhance the learning experience of students in our community. Visit the TVEF website at www.tvdsb.ca/tvefor follow us on Twitter and Instagram @TVeducationFdn.


United Way Elgin Middlesex

The largest non-government funder of social services in our region, United Way is dedicated to creating lasting, positive change in the quality of life for vulnerable people. We work to tackle the root causes of poverty, finding long-term solutions and lasting support so that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. We are locally driven and locally governed, and our resources are invested into community programs strategically to support urgent needs and promote long-term stability in the social conditions of families in our communities. Donations stay 100% local, always.


The Salvation Army

In London, the work of The Salvation Army spans over 125 years. By partnering with other social service agencies, hospitals, churches, and organizations across London, The Salvation Army provides a number of services dedicated to breaking down the cycle of poverty, homelessness, and addiction, including rehabilitation for those struggling with addiction and emergency shelters. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of marginalized and overlooked people in your community.