Now collecting until September 3


Though summer has only just begun, the Thames Valley Education Foundation (TVEF), United Way, and The Salvation Army are hard at work preparing to support students this September through Best First Day. Last year, the annual community-wide drive was able to deliver nearly 3,000 backpacks full of supplies to students of all ages in need across the entire Thames Valley district, in addition to Indigenous communities, the LDCSB, and several community agencies. Amid the financial strain many families are facing with COVID-19, there is an anticipated increased need among students for school supplies.

The digital shopping experience was such a great success last year that we have opted to keep it! You can shop from the comfort of your home, if that were something you would prefer over physical donations. We will continue to accept donations of physical backpacks and supplies through our workplace collections and at our drop off locations but will be wrapping up the collection on September 3, to ensure we get supplies to students before they go back to school.

Now collecting


  • Backpacks
  • Markers/Pencil Crayons
  • Lunch Bags
  • Pencils
  • Pencil Cases
  • Water bottle
  • Notebooks
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks


  • Backpacks
  • Markers
  • Pencil crayons
  • Scientific Calculators
  • Water bottle
  • Binders
  • Notebooks
  • Paper

#BestFirstDay Toolkit

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

Sign up as an individual or team to collect items for the Best First Day Community-Wide School Supplies drive!

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 Stephanie Winterton, Thames Valley Education Foundation at 519.452.2000 x 20208

NEW! Adopt a School!
Is there a school in your neighbourhood you’d like to collect for? Perhaps your local workplace or organization wants to give directly to one school community (or more).  Email Stephanie at to inquire – we have schools with a range of needs and quantity, making us confident we can arrange something!

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 generic collection poster

Best First Day wrapping paper

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

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

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 Education Foundation and The Salvation Army. Collected backpacks and school supplies are given to local schools for distribution to students in need.

In 2020, Best First Day collected and gave out nearly 3,000 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:

TVDSB Education Centre

1250 Dundas St., London, ON  N5W 5P2 – REAR OF BUILDING

Starting Monday August 30 – Friday, September 3 donations will be accepted from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. in the cafeteria. Please see below map to see what entrance you should go to, and the back of the building. A door will be propped open. Drop-off location is on the north-east building section. Please email Stephanie Winterton with any questions at

If you are a company that would like to be a drop-off site for donations, please email Stephanie to coordinate

Interested in volunteering?

If you are an individual and/or family looking to volunteer, we have created volunteering events on Eventbrite for your ease! Please check the dates and times out, and register here. If you have questions, please email Erin at

If you are an organization/company looking for your own packing session, please email Stephanie at to arrange.

We look forward to packing with you!

Thames Valley Education Foundation drop off location map

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

Nathan Wilcox
Development Officer
United Way Elgin Middlesex
519.438.1723 ext 337

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

Rebecca  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

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

Information coming soon!

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

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

Participating Workplaces

3M Canada


Canada Life

Classic Rock, 98.1 – Rock Back to School

EMCO Corporation


General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada

McCabe Promotional Advertising Inc

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at University Hospital

Preferred Insurance

RBC London Lambton Market

Real Canadian Superstore (Oakridge and Oxford E)




TD Employee Back in Class

True North

United Way Elgin Middlesex

Dakota HalfpennyBest First Day – school supplies drive