EDMONTON -- The Can Man Dan Foundation gave out school supplies, haircut vouchers and food hampers to thousands of low-income families on Sunday.

“Doing this actually means a lot to me just because I used to be a low-income child, used to go back to school wearing last year’s clothes, using last year’s school supplies,” said Dan Johnstone, also known as Can Man Dan.

“To be able to send a child to school with confidence and dignity, it means a lot to me and I think it’s just my way of keeping the cycle going.”

Sunday’s event, “We’re Here For Ya Day,” was the culmination of a month of fundraising efforts by the foundation.

Can Man Dan event

The group collected backpacks, school supplies and personal hygiene products. Everything being gifted to families came from other Edmontonians in one form or another, according to Johnstone.

“We have no big corporate sponsors, this is very grassroots. This event costs upwards of $50,000 and that all came from different corners of Edmonton.”

This is the 8th year for the event, which used to be a much smaller affair.

“Year one we helped about 200 people, it was a very small community exercise. Fast-forward to year eight and we’re helping thousands of kids, it’s Alberta’s biggest back-to-school event,” said johnstone. “Who would have ever thought it would grow to this size?”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the foundation had to implement a pre-registration system for families taking part in the event. Those who registered are able to pick up supplies until 5 p.m. Sunday.