Back to school can be stressful for parents and kids

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Most of my family and close friends jump on the bandwagon each year to help support Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army and many of the other local organizations that work very hard to ensure that underprivileged children in our area have presents under the tree during the holidays. This is a family tradition in our household and when buying gifts for the family, we are always looking for things that we can afford to give to such a worthy cause.

Most of my family and close friends jump on the bandwagon each year to help support Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army and many of the other local organizations that work very hard to ensure that underprivileged children in our area have presents under the tree during the holidays. This is a family tradition in our household and when buying gifts for the family, we are always looking for things that we can afford to give to such a worthy cause.

But one thing that many do not realize is that half of people that have an average household income of $30,000 or less fear that they are unable to buy the basic necessities needed in getting the supplies needed to send their children to school.

Your normal schools supplies, PE kits, and many times school uniforms can make or break a family when school begins. And as children get older and progress into a higher-grade level, the cost of sending them to school progresses just as fast. But most of these parents sacrifice paying bills, cutting down on food and the basic life essentials to ensure that their children have what they need in order to get the best education possible.

This causes a tremendous stress level in parents, which trickles down to their children, because no matter how young they are, they know when things are wrong. Not only that, but a child that goes to school without the proper supplies, or wearing clothes that do not fit properly face the consequences of the cruel peer pressure of their peers in school. As sad as that is, it is a reality that young children should not have to face.

In tandem with the San Diego County Office of Education and California Coast Credit Union, which has branches in El Cajon, La Mesa and Santee, there is a drive for school supplies to help the children in our communities. Last year, this program managed to provide nearly 4,000 school-aged homeless children in the county with 3,975 backpacks filled with needed schools supplies.

They are doing the same this year, and this is a wonderful way for the community to get involved. As great as this program is, I believe that there are other ways to help out these needy children in our own neighborhoods.

I came home last week and on the table was a pile of crayons and notebooks that had been bought for $0.15 to $0.25 each. There are so many back to school sales going on right now and though many schools in the county have already begun, the majority of our East County schools still have a month to go before school begins.

I believe that with the help of our community that together, we can help. When shopping for schools supplies for your child, if you can afford it, buy double the amount of the items on the list needed for back to school supplies. These can be taken directly to the teacher of your child’s classroom who will gladly make sure that the supplies are given to a child in need.

I see dedicated teachers that spend a lot of their own money on supplies for their classroom because our school system does not provide them. This is a common occurrence and as budgets get tighter, teachers are spending more money.

So if you can, try to help one child in need by buying school supplies to get them started and what better place to start than the school and grade level that your child goes to. Another way to help, is if you know a family that is struggling financially, anonymous gift certificates can go a long way in buying the essentials and if generous enough, perhaps some new clothes to begin the new school year in.

We want our children to grow up and be part of an educated populace and part of that is having the right tools to succeed. And the stress release that these acts of kindness can provide for parents is the ability to let them focus on other important matters. Like keeping a roof over their children’s head and food on the table.

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