South Florida

School Supply Drive Alleviates Financial Stress For Families In Need

It's hard to think about school in the middle of summer, but the next school year is creeping up on us, and with that comes economic anxiety for thousands of South Florida families.

The source of that anxiety is school supplies, something most of us take for granted.

"We did a backpack index and discovered that it costs about a thousand dollars for families with high school students to purchase the supplies they need and for the low income families that we serve, a thousand dollars is money they can use for other necessities," said Elyssa Linares of Communities in Schools.

Communities in Schools is a non-profit group that provides a range of services to inner city schools and to kids like Olivier Arnaux, who just graduated from Miami Edison High School.

Arnaux will be a freshman in college next month. Coming from a family with four siblings and a single mom, he knows how hard it is for his mother to buy school supplies every year.

The family is forced to make choices between essentials such as clothing and notebooks or food and pencils.

"Like sometimes that money could do something else but she has to, basically, send us to school and prepare us for school," Arnaux said.

Coming to school without all the needed supplies can have more than just an academic impact. There's a ripple effect that can impact kids in ways most people may not even consider.

"Research has shown that actually not having the supplies that the students need affects their attendance, so they won't come to school if they're having to ask students for supplies or they don't have the tools," Linares said.

The embarrassment of not having basic supplies can actually lead kids to drop out of school. That's why Communities in Schools, in partnership with NBC6, Telemundo 51 and the United Way are asking the public to donate school supplies.

We're talking about everything from pencils and paper to crayons to flash drives and calculators. The supplies can be dropped off at the International Mall, The Falls, Dadeland and the Coral Square Malls. It's an easy way to contribute to families who need your help.

"The student's gonna have the opportunity, the parents not gonna worry anymore about the supplies that they needed. They gonna save that money and do something else with it," said Arnaux, a recent immigrant from Haiti, about the benefits of this supply drive.

It's all about allocating scarce resources. We can all help families who have very little have one less thing to worry about as the school year approaches.

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