Now collecting until September 8


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 over 3,800 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.

This year to address the need in the community while ensuring the health and safety of participants, we have added a digital shopping experience. 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 8 to ensure time for proper sanitization of materials prior to getting them out to the students.

Now collecting


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


  • Backpacks
  • Markers
  • Pencil crayons
  • Scientific Calculators
  • Water bottle

#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 Aness Symons, United Way Elgin Middlesex, at 519.438.1723 ext 235 or 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 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

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 2019, Best First Day raised over 3,800 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:

Thames Valley District School Board – Education Centre
1250 Dundas St, London

Tuesdays, 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Thursdays, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Please come to the West side of the Education Centre. The doors to the gymnasium will be open for you to come in with your donations.

Due to construction please enter off of Osborne Street on the west side of the building. Parking is available and you will enter via the gymnasium doors to avoid having to walk through the building. Physical distancing is required, masks encouraged.

Please email Stephanie Winterton if these times will not work for you.

Oakridge Center | Real Canadian Superstore
1205 Oxford St W, London

Real Canadian Superstore
825 Oxford St E, London

Collecting until September 8

St. Thomas Police Service
45 Caso Crossing, St. Thomas
Drop off in front vestibule

Middlesex County Libraries
Click here for locations and current hours of operation (

Individual Packing Nights

Please email Stephanie at to confirm a space. Capacity is limited.

Monday, August 24, 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Monday, August 31, 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

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

Aness Symons
Associate Director, Communications & Donor Experience
United Way Elgin Middlesex
519.438.1723 ext 235

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

Becky 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

Ashton Electric

Canada Life

ETBO Tool & Die


Forest City Sport & Social Club

General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada

Harrison Pensa LLP

Intact Insurance Company


Libro Credit Union

London Police Association

London Police Service

McCabe Promotional

Middlesex London Health Unit

RBC Royal Bank

Roberto Carlos Fitness


Sifton Properties Limited

St. Thomas Fire Department

St. Thomas Police Service

TD Bank

Western University

ZTR Control Systems

Dakota HalfpennyBest First Day – school supplies drive