Press-Republican

Opinion

August 20, 2013

Editorial: Helping families handle costs

Store aisles are already crowded with parents and children shopping for back-to-school needs. We trust that teachers have been judicious about their requests in empathy with family finances.

When the kids are barely past the halfway mark of their summer vacations, the notebooks, pens, writing paper and the like start appearing on store shelves.

It used to be, many years ago, that all these items were doled out to students on the first day of school. Many Baby Boomers can recall the smell of composition books, the nervous excitement of lifting the classroom desktops to store their pencil holders.

But as schools struggled to reduce costs, more and more of the supplies needed for students have to be provided by their families. Lists are sent home specifying how many binders, notebooks and pens are needed. Shopping also often includes book covers, Kleenex, markers, erasers, calculators, rulers and more. It can get pricey, especially for those with multiple children in school.

And that is not even factoring in the fact that most families do at least a little back-to-school clothes shopping. The marketing for that begins in mid summer, as well.

We applaud the schools that have begun to recycle supplies in June as classes wrap up. A number of schools provide bins where students can drop off items they haven’t used. Sometimes these endeavors are a product of the Student Council or a school club; sometimes the teachers organize the recycling. Every school should make this a spring ritual, as it not only provides supplies to those who can’t afford them but also keeps perfectly usable items from winding up in the landfill.

Another worthy effort in our area is the supply drives held by community organizations and some stores. They set up dropoff sites where people can donate new backpacks and school supplies. With all the sales taking place this time of year, it’s easy to stock up at bargain prices, so even modest generosity can go a long way. We encourage more schools and agencies to establish supply dropoff sites.

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