Back-to-School Thrift Stores
An initiative of the Regroupement des Magasins-Partage de l’île de Montréal
It’s difficult for children to start the school year off right when they don’t have necessary supplies! The “Magasins-Partage” back-to-school thrift stores were created in 2001 to help Montreal families in a situation of poverty. The “Magasins-Partage” Holiday Season stores were already enjoying a tremendous success, but it was realized that for many low-income families needs were even greater during the back-to-school period. This period brings many costs, including school fees, school supplies, clothing, day-care, extra-curricular activities and so on.
Fourteen “Magasins-Partage” back-to-school thrift stores open their doors in as many neighbourhoods every fall during the week before schools starts. All children registered in the program receive a school bag filled with the basic school supplies they will need (pencils, eraser, rulers, paper, exercise books) based on lists provided by the schools. They also receive a lunchbox, and their parents are invited to purchase a week’s supply of food at discounted prices in order to free up a little money for other expenses.
The Magasins-Partage operate like small neighbourhood grocery stores, with shoppers choosing their food items according to their needs and tastes. They are asked to make a contribution equivalent to 10% of the real cost of their purchases, and the profits are reinvested in the store, thereby helping to shorten its waiting list.
Each Magasin-Partage works in collaboration with the community agencies and schools in its neighbourhood, as well as with the health and social services network. Each is also the doorway to a vast support network: once participants register, they are directed according to their needs to other services, such as collective kitchens, homework assistance, support for immigrant families, etc.
Each fall, the Magasins-Partage back-to-school thrift stores help over 2,000 children.
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