Best First Day backpack drive helps thousands of students get back-to-school ready

Posted On Friday August 18, 2023

With a new school year just around the corner, thousands of Thames Valley families are struggling to afford back-to-school essentials for their young learners.

That’s why the Thames Valley Education Foundation is proud to partner once again with United Way Elgin Middlesex and The Salvation Army London Community and Family Services to launch the annual Best First Day backpack drive.

This community-wide initiative has provided backpacks and school supplies to students in need for more than 20 years – and it’s more important now than ever, as the need for emergency support continues to grow.

“In the last two years alone, requests for basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter made to the Thames Valley Education Foundation’s Caring Fund have more than doubled,” says Brittany Webb, Executive Director and Community and Corporate Fund Development Officer for the Foundation.

“This is the reality for countless families in your community, right now. Your donation to the Best First Day campaign can take the stress of back-to-school shopping out of the equation by sending a student to school with everything they need to learn,” said Webb.

Last year, over 3,000 backpacks filled with school supplies were distributed to students in the Thames Valley District School Board, London District Catholic School Board and Indigenous communities.

This year’s drive aims to pack over 3,500 backpacks for students in London, Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford counties.

“We are seeing a greater need among thousands of local families than in past, so it’s more important than ever to support students and empower them to have a successful start at school,” says Rebecca Thiessen, Integrated Missions Manager for The Salvation Army London Community and Family Services. “The reality of economic inflation presents a bleak difficulty for families in need of school supplies. When a family needs to decide between paying rent for a month or buying their children new shoes or backpacks, that’s a very real struggle.”

Donations are being accepted until Friday, September 1, 2023.

Visit 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

Brittany Webb
Executive Director & Community and Corporate Fund Development Officer
Thames Valley Education Foundation/Thames Valley District School Board | 519-452-2000 ext. 20202


Jennifer Wain
Director, Communications & Donor Experience
United Way Elgin Middlesex | 519-438-1723 ext. 228


Rebecca Thiessen
Integrated Missions Manager
The Salvation Army London Community and Family Services | 519-617-0678


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 or follow us on Twitter and Instagram @TVeducationFdn.


United Way Elgin Middlesex

United Way works so that every person in every community across our region has a fair shot at a good life. As the largest non-government funder of essential social services in Elgin-Middlesex, we tackle issues linked to poverty and social exclusion through strategic collaboration, advocacy and investment in programs proven to get results. Donations stay 100% local, always.


The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army London Community and Family Services provides a number of programs dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and transforming lives. We offer food assistance programs, Life Skills workshops, Christmas Hamper Program, summer camp, community garden, Pathway of Hope support and other services that bless those who struggle. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of families and overlooked people in your community -


© 2023 , 44 Hawthorne Road, London . Tel. 519-452-8160, Fax 519-452-8169,   Superintendent: P. Skinner, Trustees: B. Mai, S. Moore