·  by Darren Green, President-USW Local 5328

Hamilton Steelworkers Did it Again!

Operation Backpack 2015

It seemed like a small thing at the time when an executive member of USW Local 5328 approached the management team at ArcelorMittal Hamilton East with a request to help the local United Way provide Back Packs for inner-city children returning to school. He thought the union and the employees would support it. They did.

That first effort in 2008 enabled 92 school kids to return to school with backpacks filled with needed school supplies. The response from teachers in the local schools was enthusiastic. They were thrilled and wished they had more organizations doing this. There is a real need for school supplies, clothing and  and how grateful they were for our donation.

It was that response that prompted what is now a yearly campaign by ArcelorMittal Hamilton East and USW 5328..

The program has grown along the way and has been recognized by the community as one that can and should be emulated and one that has attracted many additional sponsors.

Wesley Urban Ministries has undertaken their own backpack Initiative in Hamilton as have the employees of Dofasco. The Steelworkers Area Council in Sault Ste. Marie has worked with AMHE and USW 5328 in purchasing 300 backpacks for their community.

What started as a workplace campaign at Hamilton East now boasts Hamilton Specialty Bar, Golden Horseshoe Credit Union, GIC Financial, Kromet International, A Raymond Tinnerman as additional corporate sponsors. City Councillor Sam Merulla, also takes part and donates to the program.

The union involvement has grown as well. The Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council, the Hamilton Chapter of the USW Women of Steel, USW locals 16506, 4752, 1005, 7135 and 4153 all take an active role in this campaign.

In 2014, 600 backpacks were handed out by St. Matthews House, a local charity that supports the homeless and families in need.

This year the goal is 700 backpacks. Imagine the difference that make will make to our community!

There are many other initiatives that take place at Hamilton East that bring a great deal of pride such as the Adopt-a-Family Program at Christmas, the United Way of Burlington-Greater Hamilton and the McMaster Plane Pull in support of the Children’s Hospital, to name a few.

The broad community support for the Backpack Program puts it in the forefront as a support that is visible and one which can be easily quantified.

The goal for 2016?

1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies and a voucher for a new pair of shoes.

Can we do it? We will find a way.

‪#‎USWCares ‪#‎committed2community ‪#‎hamiltonsteel

*Photo by Mike Hnatjuk (USW Local 5328)

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