Hartling and her former teacher were volunteering together when they started talking about families struggling with the back-to-school season.
“She talked about how it’s heartbreaking to see kids showing up without supplies,” said Hartling.
“I knew I couldn't do much on my own, so I reached out over Facebook,” she said. Since then, the Westville resident has been spending her summers collecting school supplies for families who struggle to afford them.
“School’s … hard enough, kids shouldn't have to show up without supplies.”
The night before school starts, she and her boyfriend pull out all the supplies that have been donated and collected and divide everything into two piles – one for high school and one for elementary school.
This year, the donations are going to A.G. Baillie Memorial School and North Nova Education Centre in New Glasgow, said Hartling. She said they give to an elementary school and a high school every year, alternating the choice to make it as fair as possible.
Nancy Boudreau, principal of A.G. Baillie, said the school and the parents are extremely appreciative.
“We’re always in need of extra things. We do have students who come to school and it’s a struggle to get all the things on the list checked off. It’s something that our teachers or the school don't have to end up going out and buying, because that’s what would happen otherwise,” she said.
Hartling said the scope of the fundraiser has been increasing every year as she raises the awareness of it.
“We have about two totes, overflowing.”
The totes contain everything from crayons and duotangs to scientific calculators and USBs, estimated at $700 worth of material. She’s not done yet, and said the donations are just starting to come in and expects many more to come in over the next few weeks.
“We can help a lot of kids this year,” she said.
“I keep joking that I have to remember to buy my son school supplies,” said Hartling. Her son, Nathan, is starting grade one this fall and she says that fact makes what she’s doing feel more important.
“It just motivates me more,” she said.
The goal is to keep the fundraiser expanding, and Hartling said she’d love to be able to eventually help out students at NSCC too.
Cakes and Things in downtown New Glasgow has become a permanent drop off place for supplies this year. Donations can be dropped off there, or an alternate pick up-drop off can be arranged by emailing Hartling at email@example.com.