LONDON, ONT. -- An emergency fund that helps students in need every year is in need of some help itself.

You may never have heard of it before, but the Thames Valley Education Foundation Caring Fund helps between 400 and 500 families every year who are struggling.

Coordinator Jackie Ellefsen said this year, during COVID-19, the need is greater than ever.

"During this time where we have families struggling with their family businesses, we have several family members who have lost jobs. I mean I think it’s extra difficult for a lot of our students and their families."

Ellefsen said the need is there across all age groups and in every part of the school board. At one point or another every single school in the board has asked for funds.

Families in need can receive up to $500 per year, per student. During the last school year the fund granted $160,000. Ellefsen said more often than not it’s the teacher who’s first to notice a child in need. 

"They will request funding through the principals, and the principal will support funding in whatever way they need. Sometimes that’s gift cards, sometimes that’s a pair of boots, sometimes that’s lunch items, that sort of thing, so it really depends on the student and the situation and the family."

Ellefsen said fundraising has been difficult during the pandemic. She’s appealing for help so the fund can continue helping students who need it most.

"We, you know, aren’t trying to solve any large-scale problems here. We’re just trying to make sure that students come to school, that they have food, that they have their basic needs met because you need your basic needs met if you want to learn properly, right.”

Those wishing to support the Thames Valley Education Foundation Caring Fund can do so by visiting their website