Back to school help

West Welcome Wagon chief executive Chris Scerri and GIVIT Victorian manager Solange. (Supplied)

Tara Murray

Children across the west will be starting the school year with new stationery and backpacks following a donation to West Welcome Wagon.

Stationery retailer Smiggle recently donated school packs to West Welcome Wagon to distribute to families doing it tough across Melbourne’s west, as part of a back to school appeal by national online charity GIVIT.

West Welcome Wagon chairman Chris Scerri said the children would love the packs.

“It’s really good as we’re trying to help out as many kids as we can with stationary, backpacks and lunchboxes,” he said.

“They’ve given us wonderful backpacks and lunch boxes and other bits and pieces and kinder-sized packs.

“There’s about 15 boxes of stuff, so that will get us through the first half of the year.”

Mr Scerri said West Welcome Wagon had 815 families on its database with about 500 of them having school children.

He said the organisation usually helped 200 to 300 children each school year, but had already reached out to 450 children this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve given them backpacks, stationary and reached out and offered to help with one piece of uniform,” he said.

Mr Scerri said it had been a busy 12 months for West Welcome Wagon, with the organisation’s experiencing increased demand for its food deliveries.

He said 35 tonnes of food was delivered last year.

GIVIT chief executive Sarah Tennant said the back to school appeal helped children and teenagers to return to classrooms with the tools to learn and enjoy school.

“Poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life, particularly their education,” she said.

“Kids who go to school hungry, with their shoes falling apart and without a jumper in winter, feel they don’t fit in.”

A Smiggle spokesperson said after such a difficult year for so many families it was nice to be able to give back.

In another bonus for West Welcome Wagon, the organisation recently received a $67,000 grant to help buy a delivery van.