Some kids want the hottest pair of running shoes to start their school year off right, while other kids simply want shoes that fit them.

With just days left until the school bells start ringing, Halton families are busy outfitting their kids for school and filling their backpacks with classroom supplies. For many Halton families, though, the additional costs for new clothes, educational materials and activity fees are well beyond their means.

“Clothing, lunches and school supplies are the most requested items at the beginning of the school year,” says Lesley Mansfield, executive director of the Halton Learning Foundation (HLF).

Annually, HLF funds these basic necessities, as well as school transportation, field trips and school activities for 1,200 financially vulnerable students of the Halton District School Board. All requests come directly from teachers, principals or school social workers.

Mansfield says that without some financial support many of these kids risk being left out or left behind in learning, such as the teenager whose mom had recently started working after escaping from a domestic violence situation.

“The student was engaged in his physical education class, but he could not afford appropriate gear to fully participate,” Mansfield says. With HLF’s support, the student was able to purchase gym shorts, running shoes and a raincoat to participate in outdoor activities that were part of his course.

“All students, regardless of their family’s income, should have the tools they require to do their best work at school,” she says.

HLF’s Back to School fundraising campaign aims to raise $30,000 by September 30 to ensure local students have the supplies they need to start the school year on the right foot. Donations made by September 7 will be matched up to $10,000 by stone wool insulation manufacturer ROCKWOOL, of Milton.

“We want all children to have the ability to realize their full potential,” says Leslie McLaren, North American Manager, Corporate Communications & Stakeholder Relations, ROCKWOOL. “We’re helping to fill needs, but not just for things – programs like this one through Halton Learning Foundation can change the way children think about themselves and how they fit into their own world. These donations provide the gift of self-esteem, confidence, and allow children to thrive and succeed. We’re matching donations, because it can make such a profound difference for children and families in our community.”