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Back-to-school shopping can be expensive, but there are resources for local families

School supplies
Posted at 6:30 PM, Aug 07, 2023

Back to school is just around the corner for many families, and the National Retail Federation expects spending on school supplies to reach record levels this year.

The average family will spend about $890 — $25 more than last year.

“I just come and I buy them the basic stuff. I mean, if there's help offered and I know about it, I'll try to swing by and see what I can get to save money with these tough times," said local parent Jorge Pineda.

For some parents, it’s a much greater cost.

“Especially parents with more than one kid, it's harder. I can only imagine how hard it is to have to buy everybody their clothes or school supplies," Pineda added.

There are local donation drives and resources that may be available for some parents.

“Our main philanthropic program is Operation School Bell. That's where we provide services to students throughout the county, taking them to a retail shopping experience," said Bonnie Long, SLO County Assistance League president.

The program has been in operation for 28 years, working hand in hand with 10 school districts in San Luis Obispo County. Schools identify families and students who may need extra help through a referral process.

“Students that we do provide clothing for, they also get a brand new grade-appropriate book that they pick out and they get a dental hygiene kit, and they also get a tote filled with grade-appropriate school supplies," Long explained.

Long says the organization will spend more than $300,000 this year on clothing and school supplies for about 2,200 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The referral process is taking place right now so this is the best time for parents to check in with their schools to see if they qualify for help.

The Assistance League of SLO County is always looking for monetary donations. To donate, you can visit their website here.