Hey there! My name is Caitlin and I just started at United Way of Southeastern Connecticut last week as a Loaned Employee sponsored by Mohegan Sun. So far, I’ve had a great time learning about the impact of United Way in our community and getting to know the enthusiastic and friendly staff! The office has been busy with all sorts of meetings, events, and visitors, but there’s one project that has really been on my mind.
As I pulled into the parking lot this morning, I noticed that the sign out front had been changed to let people know about our upcoming School Supply Drive. I remembered what it was like to shop for school supplies as a kid: sitting in the car on the way to Staples with my brothers in the backseat, selecting color-coded folders for each class (always green for math), examining weekly planners to find the perfect design (floral or polka dots? I could never decide) and weighing my need for index cards (did I ever actually use the flashcards I was supposed to make?). As the years went by and the list of recommended supplies got more technological, I remember less shopping and more negotiating (“You don’t need your own graphing calculator! Borrow that one from your brother if you have a test”). But my days of plotting Cartesian coordinates are long gone. What about kids nowadays?
As it turns out, getting proper school supplies has become increasingly difficult for families during the past 10 years. According to the annual Huntington Bank Backpack Index, the cost of supplies and extracurricular activities has risen steadily since 2007, increasing by 88 percent for elementary school students, 81 percent for middle schoolers and 68 percent for high schoolers. That means that for this school year, parents will be expected to pay $662 for each child in elementary school, $1,001 for each child in middle school, and $1,489 for each child in high school (actually a few dollars fewer than last year). These numbers represent a strain on the resources of many families in our community. A press release from the organization Communities in Schools explains:
“While moderate-income families may not think much about having to purchase pencils, paper, tissues, hand sanitizer and so on, families living in poverty have the greatest struggle keeping up with the ever-rising cost demands of a public education”
Most people would agree that quality education is the most important gift we can give to children and one of the best investments we can make for the future of our community. That’s why United Way is supporting students through our annual school supply drive. Donations can be dropped off at United Way (283 Stoddards Wharf Road in Gales Ferry) between August 14-25, 2017, and you can volunteer or even run your own drive by visiting www.uwsect.org/schoolsupplies.