The average cost of back-to-school shopping for kids in elementary through high school is $697, according to data from the National Retail Federation.
The cost covers classroom supplies but also everything else, including clothes.
For thousands of families in Bucks County, the cost of gearing their kids up for school can be just a bit too much on their bank account.
In Bucks County, a program has worked for the past nine years to help lower-income families prepare their students for the school year.
This summer, donations from kind-hearted residents, organizations, and businesses helped collect enough supplies to pack new backpacks for the United Way of Bucks County’s “Stuff the Bus” drive.
Last Thursday, volunteers gathered at Westby Hall at the Fairless Hills Fire Company in Falls Township to pack the backpacks.
Across the large hall, volunteers worked in assembly lines to back bags with donated school supplies. By late afternoon, the backpacks were loaded into vehicles and transported around the county.
Danielle Bush, who coordinates the countywide Stuff the Bus program, said more than 3,000 backpacks were filled as part of the program this year. Families in need have until 5 p.m. Monday to request a backpack for their kids.
Years ago, Jennifer Dredge needed some aid and received help getting her kids school supplies. In the years since, she’s given back to help through the program and recently joined the United Way of Bucks County’s Board of Directors.
“Back to school is hard for families who can’t afford it,” Dredge explained. “And many times this can help them.”
Aside from helping families in need, the Bristol native enjoys seeing volunteers who have become friends year after year.
“It’s a tradition for me,” she said after packing backpacks. “It’s really more like a holiday.”