Backpacks for Kids to equip 150 children for school this year

It’s been eight years since Peter Cross’s youngest daughter was getting ready to attend her first year of school in the Dominican Republic. Peter had moved there in 2005 to run one of Fibernetics’ call centres as VP of Contact Center Operations. He got married and adjusted to life in a country where water and electricity are not to be taken for granted. But it wasn’t until his wife, Rosa, took their daughter shopping for school supplies, that he realized education is also a luxury for many children.

“My memory of school in Canada is that paper and pencils were available for anyone who needed them, but students in the Dominican are required to supply their own textbooks, workbooks, paper, writing implements, coloured pencils, and a uniform. And if they can’t afford those items, then they can’t attend school.”

Kids in the Dominican Republic, ready for school thanks for Backpacks for Kids

Kids in the Dominican Republic, ready for school thanks to Backpacks for Kids

Peter called the Fibernetics leadership team back in Canada. Giving back to community has always been a part of who Fibernetics is; happiness is a core value for us, and we’re always looking for ways to increase the well-being of our staff and customers, as well as the communities we live and work in. The leadership loved the grassroots charity idea Peter was pitching to support families and spread happiness and well-being in the Dominican: Backpacks for Kids.

Backpacks for Kids is one of our home-grown initiatives to help change lives and the communities we live and work in. It warms our hearts to think about what an honour it is for us to help these amazing kids. – John Stix, Fibernetics Co-Founder

Peter and his family distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to local children

Peter and his family distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to local children

Every year, funds are raised through employee donations, company BBQs, and company contributions to enable Peter and a team of volunteers from Fibernetics’ Call Centre, to buy backpacks and fill them with school supplies specific to different age groups; from primary children who need crayons and glue, to teenagers who need three-ring binders and dividers. Each backpack also contains a gift certificate to be redeemed at the uniform shop for a few pairs of pants, shirts, and a pair of shoes so that one backpack gives a child everything they need for a year at school.

The first year, Peter and Rosa scheduled an event in their backyard to distribute the backpacks. Word spread in the community and on the day, fifty children arrived.

Kids sit, waiting for the handing out of backpacks to begin

Kids sit, waiting to receive their backpacks

“I quickly became known as the ‘school supply guy’. People would just show up at my house or at the Fibernetics Call Centre. We helped everyone out as much as we could, and everyone was so grateful. One year a woman showed up with a bottle of milk for us. She’s a farmer, as many are down here, and that’s all she had to give. It was so meaningful to us to receive it.”

Word continued to spread and the next year, eighty kids showed up. Soon the list grew to 150 names long.

“There were too many kids and parents to host at my house, so we moved the event to the company parking lot and started providing lunch too, with hot dogs for the kids. It was great.”

Peter and kids

Peter and kids with their backpacks

While Peter doesn’t like to boast about the time he and the team at the Fibernetics Call Centre devote to our in-house charity, the rest of us at Fibernetics Head Office in Cambridge, are happy to do it for him. Backpacks for Kids is a huge undertaking every year. A binder with lists of families who need supplies is maintained and updated every year. Peter goes out to the stores and negotiates deals to buy as many supplies as he can. Then he takes it all home where he, his family, and Fibernetics staff volunteers pack each backpack with the supplies each child needs. They make sure to always have extras on hand for those who aren’t on the list, like the three young boys who showed up one year, running into the office parking lot with no shoes on, each looking for a backpack to call their own.

Fibernetics call centre employees volunteer to unpack and sort school supplies (with some help from Peter's daughters!)

Volunteers from the Fibernetics call centre unpack and sort school supplies (with some help from Peter’s daughters!)

Peter sees first-hand the lives that are being impacted and his dream is to see the Fibernetics family continue to support this initiative for many years to come.

We’ve seen some of these kids every year over the course of almost ten years. It’s overwhelming to look at a child and realize that the Fibernetics family is the reason why this individual is able to go to school. It’s incredible to realize that without these supplies, they wouldn’t get an education at all. We’re changing the life path of entire families, just by providing something as simple as a backpack and a uniform. – Peter Cross, Fibernetics VP of Contact Centre Operations

Two boys peer into the backpacks, excited to see their new school supplies

Two boys peer into the backpacks, excited to see their new school supplies

pete on couch with backpacks

Peter at the Fibernetics Call Centre, filling backpacks with socks to complete the school uniform

This year Peter and his team are looking for a new way to distribute backpacks as COVID19 will prevent them being able to host everyone at the office. He’s already getting calls from families who are anxious to know if Backpacks for Kids will be continued this year.

Times are tough for everyone, but especially for families who rely on a backpack to ensure their child can get an education, and Peter says the families are grateful to hear that Fibernetics has pledged to provide 150 backpacks again this year.

COVID19 or not, we will not stop supporting Backpacks for Kids as best that we can. Thank you to all Fibernetics staff, along with Peter and his family. – John Stix, Fibernetics Co-Founder

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about exactly when schools will reopen in the Dominican Republic. But one thing is for sure: when the schools open, Fibernetics wants the kids to be ready.

Backpacks for Kids gets a Boost from La Bandera

DSC_7382La Bandera literally means the flag in Spanish, but it has a whole other delicious meaning in the Dominican Republic. Lunch is the most important and the largest meal of the day in the DR, and that’s where La Bandera also known by its street name, El plato del dia (dish of the day) comes in. It is a plate of rice, beans, meat, and a salad, that is eaten every day.

The Fibernetics Call Centre, or the FCC as we call it, is based in the DR and our team of Super Customer Service agents on that Island work hard every day to keep our customers, and customers to be, happy. They also run and support our in-house charity, “Backpacks for Kids” where we provide school supplies for disadvantaged Dominican children allowing them to get the education they so desperately want.

Since its inception just a few years ago, BPFK has managed to send  hundreds of children to school who otherwise wouldn’t have gone. Every year, to support the charity we hold a series of fundraisers out of the FIbernetics headquarters in Cambridge to raise funds. This week we had a company-wide lunch, and for $5.00 we served our Canadianized version of La Bandera with all the money raised going to BPFK.

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We are soon going to make this charity open to public donations, as we’ve seen the impact it is having on our neighbours to the south, and also to our friends and co-workers at the FCC.

Congratulations to everyone who pitched in and helped make it the most successful fundraising lunch in our history. Volunteers: Fiona, Smikie, Samhi, Gavin, Dawn, Greta and Amber!

 

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Westjet Santabombs the Dominican Republic

We here at Worldline love our co-workers in the Dominican Republic at the Fibernetics Call Centre. They do an awesome job for us with sales, customer service and tech support. Pete Cross, along with company President John Stix started up backpacks for kids, our in-house charity that sends hundreds of Dominican children to school.

That’s why it was really cool to see another Canadian company showing the awesome folks in the DR some love as well. Well done Westjet. Well done.

Worldline’s Backpacks For Kids is Back!

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Last June our co-founder and CMO, John Stix introduced the official Worldline charity, “backpacks for kids” and we’re doubling down on it again in 2014:

A Message from Worldline’s CMO

In the Dominican Republic every child may attend school, however there is a minimum requirement to be met. The family must supply a school uniform, books and supplies. Unfortunately, many families do not have the necessary resources resulting in their children being kept out of school meaning thousands of kids have their futures limited due to a lack of education.

“backpacks for kids” was started by a small group of caring individuals at Worldline because the Dominican Republic is close to their hearts. We operate a 70 seat call centre in Puerto Plata called the Fibernetics Contact Centre run by Kitchener, Ontario native Pete Cross. Because of Pete’s and our efforts up here, over 130 young children have realized their dream as they have been provided fully packed backpacks – and everything they need to go to school. You can check out last year’s slide show HERE.

This cause has been embraced both in the Dominican Republic, and at our headquarters in Cambridge, Ontario

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We continue to raise money within our company with a bunch of fundraisers held throughout the year, like this Tuesday’s Pulled Pork BBQ lunch with all proceeds going to the kids – (and as a bonus it will be yummy!)

Worldline wide, for the month of June we will be donating $5.00 for each new Bundle sale and $3.00 for every home phone sale directly to the charity, so the more Canadians we help by saving them hundreds on their telecom bills, we’ll be sending even more kids to school.

“backpacks for kids” is our own homegrown charity and in the few years of its existence the tangible difference it has made in the lives of these children has been remarkable.  Seeing the smiles on all those children and parents has inspired us to do even more.

Thanks to everyone on the Worldline team for their work and energy for helping build “backpacks for kids” into what it is today.

Cheers
John Stix – CMO Worldline 

Backpacks For Kids: A slideshow

Gallery

This gallery contains 17 photos.

  Backpacks for Kids had its backpack giveaway this past weekend. More than 75 kids took part and went home with their new backpacks filled with school supplies along with some gift certificates to buy more. School supplies are not … Continue reading