In Many Areas, School Supplies Available for Low-Income Families

The National Retail Association reports that the average family spends about $670 on expenses related to getting back into school. Linda Ong, reporter for Missouri's KOLR says that many low-income families can find back-to-school expenses overwhelming.

In the Springfield area, there is help in the form of school supply drives run by local organizations, such as the Salvation Army and community churches.

"It's really helpful to get the school supplies that we need," said [grandmother of 4, Jessica] Teuscher. "We live in low-income housing so we don't have a lot of money to get them and if we didn't get them from here, we probably wouldn't be able to get everything that they need.

In the Springfield area alone, last year more than 5,200 students have made their way to various school supply dispensaries, and more are expected this year. Not only are the items a necessity, but when low-income families can be sure that their children will arrive on the first day of school with the same supplies all the other children in their classes have, that makes "fitting in" much easier.

Jamie Secola, in an article for the Pensacola News Journal, says that one Pensacola mother has a 5 year-old son, but no job. She is waiting to go on disability after suffering two heart attacks, and she is without transportation.

"There's a 35-40% poverty rate in some of our zip codes," said Andrea Krieger, the president and CEO of United Way of Escambia County. "I think folks look at a school's score, whether it's an A or an F school, and don't take into account that many of the children are going to our under-performing schools without the resources it takes to strive."

In Pensacola, the United Way has organized a program called Cram the Van. The van collects donated school supplies which are given to children who cannot afford these items. This program has been in place in the area for the past 15 years. Last year, 8,000 families in Escambia County and 3,000 in Santa Rosa County were given the supplies they needed from this program. Churches and other organizations are doing their parts, as well.

Meanwhile, in Lubbock, Texas, United Supermarkets and Lubbock area school districts have partnered to provide school supplies.

"Anything we can do outside of our normal scope of business is, it's just a great event so that we can help them out and at least provide something for them, because this should be a fun and exciting time of year for our parents, but if I'm a parent and I really can't afford to buy something, then it becomes a little less fun," said Dr. Behrl Roberston, Lubbock ISD Superintendent.

Elsewhere in Texas, the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance (MCEA), according to Margie Taylor writing for Woodlands Online, is going to help those families who will have a hard time affording school supplies for their children. Partnering with the United Way, the MCEA will be giving school counselors vouchers which may be redeemed at MCEA. Drop-off locations have been established so that the community can donate supplies necessary for students' success.

Members of the Exchange Club in Rome, Georgia, hosted a Family Day, at which 23 families, and more than 64 children were given school supplies, backpacks, and plenty of moral support, says the Northwest Georgia News. Not only supplies, but the kids had fun with clowns, rides on a military truck, and lunch.

"The Exchange Club Family Resource Center is fortunate to have the wide support of many businesses and individuals in this community," according to Tina Bartleson, Executive Director. The Exchange Club Family Resource Center is a non-profit agency that provides in-home parent education and support to families through its evidenced-based Exchange Parent Aide program.

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