School Supplies Strain a Budget! - SHIM

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School Supplies Strain a Budget!

Rachel White, Development and Communications Manager

Resized Dawn BTS shoppingI recently teamed up with my colleague, family and community engagement specialist Dawn Rees, to see how much school supplies cost this year. It seems the cost to send kids back to school only rises and never falls, and we wanted to see just how hard families are going to get hit this year.

Since our youth programs mostly serve kids from the Baldwin Whitehall School District (BWSD), we used their school supply lists to make our estimate. Many of the families we serve have more than one kid, so we estimated for a family that has a 2nd grader, a 5th grader, and an 8th grader.

We wanted to get the most accurate estimate. Knowing that most of the families we serve shop at Walmart, Dawn headed off to the local Walmart to check out various supplies. Dawn looked for pens, pencils, highlighters, markers, crayons, colored pencils, scissors, not to mention dry erase boards with markers, and so much more. She also checked out the backpack selection, which ranged from $6 all the way to $35!

Once we had our price list, we obtained last year’s school supply lists from BWSD. While these can vary between schools and even between teachers, we came up with an average amount.

Are you ready for this? This family would pay $397.50 to get everything the school requests!


For families just getting by, this is an enormous expense. Especially as inflation has kept prices high, we’re seeing more families on the brink of economic hardship. Imagine spending all your paycheck on rent, utilities, and food, and then wondering where you can find $400 to purchase school supplies. We know many parents feel crushed by this extra expense.

Thank goodness we have the best neighbors here in the South Hills, who help us to provide backpacks and school supplies to local kids. Can you help us collect school supplies for this year’s distributions? We expect to serve 1,500 kids at our three distributions, so we could really use your support! Much like our food pantries, participants have a chance to pick out the items they like best, so we hope to have a large selection of school supplies available to them.

For more information, head HERE to see our most needed items list, register a donation drive, or make a financial contribution. You will empower local kids to head back to school with confidence!

If you need help getting supplies for your kids, our distributions will be on Aug. 15, 17, and 18. You can find more information HERE by scrolling to the bottom.

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