Now collecting


  • Backpacks
  • Markers/Pencil Crayons
  • Lunch Bags
  • Pencils
  • Pencil Cases


  • Backpacks
  • Markers
  • Pencil crayons
  • Scientific Calculators

#BestFirstDay Toolkit

Start a collection drive, tell your friends and give local kids a super start to the school year

Join the drive!

To sign up as an individual or team, please fill out the form and hit “submit.” We’ll get back to you asap to confirm.

Cash donations received during the collection drive will be used to purchase any necessary items for families and children in need.

For questions or help setting up a collection drive, please contact Jenny McGregor, United Way Elgin Middlesex, at 519.438.1723 ext 347 or Stephanie Winterton, Thames Valley Education Foundation at 519.452.2000 x 20208

Here you will find resources to help spread the word.

Best First Day how to poster 

Best First Day collection contact poster

Best First Day Drive sign up

Best First Day wrapping paper

Best First Day generic collection poster

Promote your drive on social media and tag us in your posts:

  • #BestFirstDay
  • #schooltools
  • #LocalLove
  • #DoGooders

Here are some events in our community where you can bring your collections and get involved!

9th Annual Rugrat Backpack Beach Volleyball Tournament (Recreational)

Date: Saturday, July 20
Time: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Location: GT’s on the beach, Port Stanley

Event Details

  • This is a ALL-FOR-FUN-AND-FUN-FOR-ALL tournament — all skill levels and experience welcome!
  • 2 divisions, Recreational 6s and Intermediate 4s — all games are first-and-foremost-for-fun (division is based on skill level only — recreational spirit required from all players!)
  • All teams must be co-ed (2 of each gender on the court at all times for Rec 6s)
  • 3 games guaranteed for all teams
  • All games will be played at GT’s on the beach in PORT STANLEY
  • Lunch will be provided for up to 7 members per team
  • Team check-in @ 8:30am, round-robin plays wraps up @ 2pm, Trophy Presentation @ 4:30pm — a full day at the beach! All times approximate!

All players in the tournament are asked to bring a Back Pack full of School Supplies to donate to United Way GenNext’s Back Pack drive! Our goal is 200 back packs!

Sign up now!

Pop-up Volunteering: Best First Day- School Supplies Drive

Date: Monday, August 12
Time: 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Location: Thames Valley Education Centre |1250 Dundas St. E, London

Event Details

Best First Day is a collaboration between three community partners – United Way Elgin Middlesex, Thames Valley District School Board and The Salvation Army. Collected backpacks and school supplies are given to local schools for distribution to students in need.

Come on out, see the growing mound of backpacks and school supplies, and know that you have made the difference in the lives of students across our community! Join us on August 12th and help us sort supplies, pack backpacks and ensure thousands of #BestFirstDays! Pizza dinner will be provided!

Sign up now!

Making a best first day for every child

In 2001, Natalie Trimble and Chantal McLaughlin, two working moms, started Supplies for Schools in their basement. Their goal: provide backpacks and school supplies for students in need so that every kid can start school ready to learn.

Today, the program has grown into a community-wide school supplies drive coordinated by three community partners – United Way Elgin Middlesex, Thames Valley District School Board and The Salvation Army. Collected backpacks and school supplies are given to local schools for distribution to students in need.

In 2018, Best First Day raised over 3,700 backpacks full of school supplies.

Natalie and Chantal still volunteer with the program, along with many workplace and individual supporters.

Not part of a workplace collection drive? Individuals and small groups can drop-off backpacks here:

To be determined

For general inquiries about setting up a collection drive or making a donation:

Jenny McGregor
Donor Experience Specialist
United Way Elgin Middlesex
519.438.1723 ext 347

Stephanie Winterton
Development Assistant and Event Coordinator/Community and Corporate Development Assistant
Thames Valley Education Foundation
519.452.2000 x 20208

Becky Thiessen
Volunteer/Program Coordinator
The Salvation Army
519.661.0343 ext 230

For media inquiries:

Jennifer Wain
Director, Communications & Donor Experience
United Way Elgin Middlesex
519.438.1723 ext 228

Richard Hoffman
Public Affairs Coordinator
Thames Valley Education Foundation
519.452.2000 ext 20505

Shannon Wise
Public Relations & Development Representative
The Salvation Army

Looking for school supplies for your family or someone you may know?

Items collected during this drive will be distributed through the Thames Valley District School Board. Please contact your child’s school principal for more information.

Participating Workplaces


Ernst Young LLP

Forest City Sport & Social Club


Sifton Properties Limited

United Way Elgin Middlesex

Dakota HalfpennyBest First Day – school supplies drive