By: Dr. Tiffany Sieunarine

As summer days fly by, retailers continue to stock their shelves with back-to-school in mind. Everything from lunch bags, to stationary, to clothes and, of course, the latest and greatest electronics are being advertised in stores and online. Preparing for another school year can be an exciting and chaotic time as summer break comes to an end, but for some families in our community, the task can be daunting because of limited financial resources. According to a study done by Statistics Canada, 12.2% of children aged 17 and under in Waterloo Region are living in low income households (1). One local charity in particular has made it their goal to help meet some basics needs of these children.

What is the charity?

Send’em off Smiling is a registered charity with a mission of setting children in need on a more hopeful path. Since 1994, their aim has been to provide students with the necessary clothing and supplies needed to start the school year off on the right track.

How does it work?

Teachers in local schools identify students in their classrooms who they feel would most benefit from the program. Parents are then contacted to have their child participate and if they agree to it, they are asked to provide the program with some details including their child’s sizing for clothing and shoes.

How do I get involved?

I emailed Send’em off Smiling directly to let them know of my interest in participating. They asked if I had a preference for a particular age of a child and then I was given details for a specific child to shop for. Of course, the identity of the child and my identity as a donor remained anonymous throughout the entire process.

What did I buy?

I was responsible for purchasing a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved hoodie with a zipper, a t-shirt, running shoes, a package of socks, a package of underwear and of course an age appropriate backpack!

What happened next?

After purchasing everything to fill the backpack, I dropped it off at the warehouse in Kitchener. Volunteers there inspect the backpacks and contents and then add the donated school supplies to fill them. The backpacks are then delivered to the children toward the end of August – just in time for school!

What did I enjoy the most about participating?

I enjoyed the fact that I was able to purchase items for a specific child in need in our community. I have done some volunteering and mission work abroad, but to directly impact the life of a single child in our local area like this, was a unique opportunity.

How can you help?

I encourage you to consider giving of your time by volunteering at the warehouse or delivering backpacks, making a general financial contribution or shopping specifically for a child in the program. It is a worthwhile cause that positively affects our community in a great way!

Where you can learn more

You can learn more on the Send’em Off Website.

(1) Statistics Canada. (2006). UPP_06_Table1. Canadian Census

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Tiffany Sieunarine
After completing her undergrad in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Waterloo, Tiffany went on to graduate in 2011 as a Doctor of Optometry. Outside of the office, Tiffany enjoys cycling, tennis, playing flute in a local orchestra and travelling when time permits. She has also participated in Medical Mission Trips to Mexico and Bolivia. Feel free to call Insight Eye Care at 519-885-2020 to book your family’s eye exams with Dr. Tiffany Sieunarine.