This post was written by Programs Intern, Connor Richter.
With so many companies choosing to focus on profits at any expense, Domtar is becoming an example of how to make a focused effort toward sustainability and community giving. Domtar designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes a wide variety of pulp, paper, and personal care products, as well as develops innovative biomaterials. Serving more than 50 countries with approximately 10,000 employees, they have been a leader in their field for decades.
Domtar first partnered with the American division of First Book in 2013. Since then, Domtar has also become a major supporter of First Book Canada. Through their Powerful Pages initiative, they engage in projects and events that promote literacy and equip students with resources for learning across North America. Every year Domtar selects schools across Canada with a high population of students from low-income households and gives each school a gift certificate for the First Book Canada Marketplace. The gift certificates can be upwards of $4,000 – allowing educators to send hundreds of books home with the kids that need them most. As well as gift certificates, Domtar supports local Pop Up Book Distributions and provides vital volunteer support with their employees to make these events possible.
“I’m pleased and thankful that First Book Canada is making a positive impact in the community. In June, Domtar EarthChoice Ambassadors, thanks to their partnership with First Book, visited Pierre Elliot Trudeau School located at Montreal. We gave $4000 to this school to purchase books,” said Felimar Figueroa, Advisor for Export-Logistics at Domtar in Montreal. “During this event, Domtar volunteers read a story to the children at the school and handed out the books for everyone to take home. We read some stories in English and in French. It was interesting to read a book in French to the kids that are learning the language… We enjoyed the time with the kids, we got to see how smart they all are, and we were reminded of our own childhood.”
We’re already excited to visit the next school in fall!Felimar Figueroa, Advisor for Export-Logistics, Domtar
In 2018, Domtar brought their Comfort and Care initiative to Canada, a program that provides free childcare necessities. Huggies reports that 1 in 5 Canadian families can’t afford clean diapers for their child. Domtar partnered with First Book Canada to bring books and diapers to high-needs communities. First Book Canada reached out to communities around each of Domtar’s mills (Dryden, ON; Espanola, ON; Kamloops, BC; Windsor, QC) and asked if they needed books and diapers. Through this program, First Book Canada gave out thousands of diapers and brand-new board books. These resources improved child health, helped parents to put their kids in childcare, and fostered family storytime. Providing access to these materials helps kids to receive an early childhood education and equalizes the playing field between social classes.
“We did not have a lot of books in English. With the books we received, we can now learn new vocabulary and practice reading.”Students at La Passerelle School in Quebec
Every year, the Community Investment group at Domtar Corporate provides the Kamloops Mill with a gift certificate to First Book Canada. In 2016, Domtar teamed us up with the United Way Starfish Backpack program that helps feed local school children and ensures they have food to take home for the weekend. Domtar donated $3500 for the United Way to purchase books to supplement the food provided in the backpacks. Twenty-one Domtar employees and family members gathered at the Kamloops Food Bank to pack backpacks for this event. This year’s program supported over 100 students in several local schools.
First Book Canada is trying to give all kids access to high-quality books and educational resources. This can be a challenging task, but a good partnership with a company that cares makes a huge difference. First Book Canada could not be more grateful for Domtar’s continued support through funding, volunteer work, and initiatives that help kids in need. Thank you, Domtar!