SEATTLE (World Vision) – This August, as the U.S. economy continues to falter and the national unemployment rate is at a four-year high, millions of children from low-income families may return to school without basic supplies such as paper, pencils, binders, and backpacks. School supplies are a huge cost for families in need, who are often forced to choose between paying rent, buying groceries and providing the basic necessities for their child's education. In 2007, World Vision, through its generous corporate partners, was able to help roughly 41,000 school children by providing them with backpacks, pens, pencils, notebooks and other school supplies. This year, as the economy continues to falter, that number will drop to 30,000 children.
At the World Vision Storehouse in New York City, backpack requests topped 16,000 this year, but just over a third of those in need will receive backpacks. In Seattle, a faltering local economy has led to a 40% drop in backpacks for distribution, impacting both teachers and families in need. In Los Angeles, more than 4,500 children are on waiting lists this year.
"School supplies may become luxury items for many families," says Phyllis Freeman, World Vision's Storehouse Director in Los Angeles. "The price of gas has affected families' budgets. The working poor will have a more difficult time this year. Parents are facing lay-offs or reduced salaries."
World Vision is responding to the growing need for school supplies across the country. This year, World Vision will distribute backpacks and school supplies in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, the Gulf Coast, Appalachia, rural Georgia, Washington, D.C., and Dallas. Since 1997, World Vision has distributed backpacks to more than 100,000 children nationwide.
Increasingly, the burden for helping children in need rests on the nation's teachers. According to a recent study**, 94% of teachers buy supplies at their own expense, spending an average of $395 every school year. First-year teachers often spend more than $1,000 on supplies for students.
World Vision has Storehouses in 10 cities across the country. Last year, the World Vision Storehouse worked with over 3,000 partners nationwide, serving more than 1.6 million people in the United States. Manufacturers, distributors and retailers donated $50 million in surplus merchandise to World Vision Storehouses across the country. World Vision distributes only new, high quality goods such as school supplies, clothing, personal hygiene items and building supplies to families in need.
For more information or to help with donations visit: www.worldvision.org/schooltools.