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Local drives help relieve back-to-school spending

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DRIVE: Families stop by the Access Youth Center to pick up backpacks and basic school supplies during this year’s backpack drive.
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BACKPACK: Volunteers at the Access Youth Center help distribute backpacks and supplies in Wabash.

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

With the academic year starting, families in Wabash County have had a variety of events and organizations offering to help parents buy supplies for their students.

Among the organizations looking to help this year is the Access Youth Center, which held its annual backpack drive last week during which 392 backpacks were distributed. Access Youth Center Director Liz Hobbs said the organization also gave away basic school supplies, earbuds and headphones for the families who came in.

Hobbs said the most frequently asked for back-to-school item is the backpack. “That’s where the majority of the cost is for them,” she said.

In order to prepare for the drive, the Access Youth Center had to close for a week beforehand. Volunteers spent this time sorting, shopping for and organizing supplies.

Other organizations who helped with community needs included Zoomers RV and Walgreens, which attempt to fill a camper with school supplies, and Wabash Valley Chrysler, which tried to fill a truck for the first time this year.

School supply drives help offset the ever-increasing cost of sending kids back to school

According to a Purdue University researcher, families spend an average of $750 on back to school supplies, clothes and other  school-related items. Richard Feinberg, a consumer psychologist and consumer science professor at Purdue University, said the month of August is particularly expensive, with 75 percent of back to school spending done throughout the next four weeks.

Feinberg anticipates a total of $85 billion being spent on supplies across the state, with the majority of sales going to discount stores, like Walmart and Meijer, or local stores. He estimates online retailers like Amazon will receive 15 percent of spending.

For Hobbs, taking part in the backpack drive and easing the financial cost for families is satisfying because she knows her organization is helping the community.

“We strongly believe that is what community is about,” Hobbs said.

Aid will remain available for students throughout the year. Thirty additional backpacks were donated to the Access Youth Center after the drive and will remain available while supplies last.

Hobbs said her organization keeps in close contact with local schools throughout the school year, as students may need supplies later in the semester.

While MSD of Wabash County and Wabash City Schools students start today, parents at Manchester Community Schools will have another week to get their shopping done before starting August 14.