LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Parents may experience sticker shock as they go out to buy school supplies for their kids this year.
The National Retail Federation reports families with children in elementary school will spend an average of $59 more on supplies this year.
The NRF also reports families will spend average of $849 on supplies, clothes, and electronics.
“Being a parent myself, when I walk in and see the prices and think whoa,” Cody Sheppard with the Salvation Army said.
The cost of school supplies is up more than $3 billion from last year, thanks to the pandemic slowing down production and transport.
Now some parents are left with a sinking feeling.
The Salvation Army has partnered with the United Way for this year’s Stuff the Bus event.
“Those school supplies will go to the school districts and will be divvied out,” Sheppard said. “I’m assuming the counselors will kind of control the influx of those.”
Since the price of clothing has taken such a hike, the Salvation Army is also offering a $30 voucher for kids to shop for clothes in its Family Store.
“I know $30 doesn’t seem a lot nowadays, but in our Family Store, $30 will go a long way,” Sheppard said.
“I can’t imagine being in a situation where you feel like you can’t provide those basic needs for your kids to go to school,” Sheppard said. “As a parent, I can’t. And that breaks my heart.”
Baptist Health is also stepping up with their back-to-school immunization project.
“And with that immunization project comes an opportunity for our children to receive free back-to-school supplies, so we’re excited to be able to do that again this year,” Teresa Conner, Community Outreach director at Baptist Health said.
Conner said they’ll give out backpacks of supplies until they’re all gone.
“We don’t ask for any proof of income or whether you need the backpack,” Conner said. “Times are hard. People are out of work, so we want to continue to be able to provide a little help for those that are in need.”
Conner said a woman called her earlier this week in tears.
“She literally said we were a lifesaver to her because she didn’t know what she was going to do,” Conner said.
The prices are high, but hearts are big and ready to help.
None of these organizations require proof of income to get supplies.
A list of locations and times for Baptist Health’s back-to-school immunization clinics are on the Baptist Health website at Baptist-Health.com.
For more information on how to give to the United Way’s Stuff the Bus event, visit their website at UWCARK.org. For more information on the Salvation Army Family Store in Conway, visit their Facebook page.