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

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 Jennie Malone, 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!

Volunteering: Best First Day- School Supplies Drive

Event Details

Volunteer Opportunities are also available on August 15, 19, 26, 27, 28. For more information contact Stephanie Winterton

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:

Blackwell Shoes, Whiteoaks Mall
Boathouse, Whiteoaks Mall
Carson Public Library
Forked River Brewing Company
Westmount Mall

Alymer Old Town Hall Library
Belmont Library
Elgin Centre Mall, St. Thomas
Fred Bodsworth Public Library of Port Burwell
John Kenneth Galbraith Reference Library, Dutton
Port Stanley Library
Rodney Library
Springfield Library
Straffordville Library
Southwold Township Library, Shedden
St. Thomas Library
West Lorne Library

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

Jennie Malone
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
Divisional Director of Marketing and Communications  
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


Action Car and Truck Accessories

Ashton Electric

Blackwell Shoes – Whiteoaks Mall

Boathouse – Whiteoaks Mall

Canada Life


Canadian Food Inspection Agency

City of St. Thomas

COPE Local 468

Dalewood Early Learning Centre

Diebold Nixdorf

Ernst Young LLP


ETBO Tool & Die Inc.

Famme & Co Professional Corporation

Fanshawe College

Fanshawe College Student Union

FCT Insurance

Forest City Sport & Social Club

Forked River Brewing Company

Gateway Casinos London

General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada

Geerlinks Home Hardware


Harrison Pensa

Highstreet Asset Management

Intact Insurance

JMP Solutions


Libro Credit Union

London Police

Middlesex-London Health Unit

Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services

Ministry of Finance

Old North Optometry

OPSEU – Provincial Women’s Committee

OPSEU (Main)

Orgill Inc.

Oxford Learning Centre – St. Thomas Tutoring

Progressive Drug Mart

PSAC – Area Council

PSAC Local 610 – Graduate Teaching Assistants – Western University


Royal Canadian Mounted Police


SEIU – Local 2 – Brewery General & Professional

Sifton Properties Limited

St. Thomas Fire Department

St. Thomas Police

TD Bank

The Royal Imperial Sovereign Court of London SWO

Unifor Local 27

Unifor Local 302

United Way Elgin Middlesex

Western University

Women’s total fitness

ZTR Control Systems

Dakota HalfpennyBest First Day – school supplies drive