A need to support the community and a school tradition has hundreds of backpacks heading to those who need it most this year.

Students laced up their skates Friday, December 2 in a student vs teacher battle at the Centennial Arena with fellow peers and faculty taking part to watch and raise funds for the school's Backpack Campaign. This program provides basic care items to needy families in the Okotoks and Foothills area.

The annual at St. John Paul II Collegiate in Okotoks has been a mainstay for many years says teacher and organizer of the event Neil Hawryluk.

"It actually stemmed from an elementary school where we used to do it and then some of us moved on to junior high. We presented it to some of the grade nine students and some got interested and probably like just over a decade ago, this tradition started."

"As the years went on, it got bigger and bigger and bigger. We started to incorporate the backpack campaign. We started selling tickets and the students that are playing do a donation to the backpack campaign and it all comes together as this one big event that we have now." 

By the end of the game, the teachers relinquished the cup with a final score of 11 to 7. 

students and teachers in hockey gear(Photo: St. John Paul II Collegiate Facebook) 

The school reports they already have referrals for 430 backpacks and expect to pack and deliver 550 backpacks this year to respond to the needs of the community.

They ask if residents would like to make a donation to the Backpack Campaign, they can head to through their website, or drop off donations at the school.