Back to school shopping can put a strain on the wallet

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The back to school shopping trip is often an annual tradition for families, but it can also be a big hit on the wallet. According to a study by Huntington Bank, the average cost for elementary school supplies and fees is more than $600.

24-Hour News 8 asked Greenwood grandmother Cheryl Foley about her shopping strategy this time of year.

“One stop shopping with me,” she said, “I don’t know about other people, but one place, get it and go.”

Foley picked Target for school supply shopping with her grandkids. The store had the printed supply list for their school.

“There’s a whole bunch of different ones, every single school has something different,” Target Store Team Leader Jamaal Edwards said.

Foley sets a spending limit.

“I usually just do something at the beginning of the school year for my grandchildren,” she said, “So they’re each spending $25 today, they spend more than that, but that’s what they’re spending with me today.”

She said the backpacks have been the most expensive items.

There are ways to save some cash. One tip, is to leave the kids at home when you’re buying supplies.

If you’re looking for a lower price on a backpack, experts recommend going with a solid color instead of a trademarked character or design.

Foley said the kids will be back another time with their mom to get the rest of the list, including backpacks.

But sometimes that big trip to the store is more than a family can afford. In those cases, there are people in the community offering help.

“Things they can use throughout the year, markers, scissors,” NCAA Organizer Victor Hill said.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association hands out thousands of free backpacks filled with supplies each year.

“A backpack, a composition notebook, rulers, crayons, glue sticks,” Brookview Elementary Teacher Melinda Pinner said.

The bags will go to third graders in Wayne, Warren, and Pike Township Schools.

“The districts that we selected have a little higher number of kids who are in financial need,” Hill said.

Teachers volunteer their time to stuff the backpacks with the essentials.

Pinner knows these items better than anyone, as a third grade teacher.

“Most teachers are using the composition notebooks for journaling,” she said, “We always need crayons, and of course in third grade you need a ruler as well.”

She said sometimes she dips into her own wallet when kids come to school unprepared.

“They often do that, so I say don’t worry about it, sometimes with my own money I purchase additional supplies just to have in the classroom if anyone runs out,” she said.

With this donation program, she and Hill hope that won’t happen and that the kids will be set with what they need.

“As a way to support them and let them know that we’re behind them and we’re encouraging them to do really great this year,” Hill said.

Each school district should be able to connect families to resources specifically for their students.

There are also extra NCAA backpacks given to the township schools we mentioned in the story, in case students missed the first round of handouts.

If you’d like to donate to kids in need you can find out more information in the links below.

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