A respectful and dignified shopping experience
Set up in 1995 by Centraide Outaouais as part of its Back to School program, sharing stores –magasins-partage - provide a respectful and dignified back-to-school shopping experience for low-income families. Parents can buy school supplies for their elementary school children very affordably, with a 75% discount off the full retail price.
Every family can choose in accordance with their children’s needs and preferences. Since the parents contribute to the costs when they make their purchases, they are active partners in an initiative that emphasizes solidarity and mutual assistance.
In addition to easing the financial burden on families, sharing stores promote better integration into the school community for children from modest backgrounds. With a brand-new bag full of the latest must-have school supplies, the children can’t wait to start school!
Every year, the Back to School program helps more than 2,000 children.
Since it was set up, 46,957 children from 22,000 families have benefited from the program within the area served by Centraide Outaouais, which takes in the city of Gatineau and the Pontiac, Papineau and Des Collines RCMs.
The program is made possible through financial support from Centraide Outaouais and the cooperation of some thirty partners that include the “helper” agencies, local school boards, institutional partners and numerous volunteers.
A few dates and statistics
1995 : The program is launched with $30,000 in funding. Some 500 children receive a $60 voucher to be used in participating stores.
1997 : Establishment of sharing stores: 600 needy children obtain school supplies at a 75% discount off contemporary retail prices.
2000 : Nearly 1,600 children benefit from the program, now with a $40,000 budget.
2005 : The Heafey Group makes a major donation of $500,000 to the program, spread over a number of years. Annual funding is set at $140,000. Some 3,000 children benefit.
2012 : The fund stands at $120,000. The reduction is attributable to a loss of momentum for the annual fundraising campaign, due mainly to economic uncertainty.
2014-2015 : Brookfield Renewable donates $40,000 over two years.
2017 : 1,214 families, 2,230 children, 16 sharing stores, $90,000 invested, 23 helpers (community agencies), 187 volunteers, and more smiles than anyone can count.