Thousands of area school children will receive backpacks and other helpful school supplies at Project Back to School’s 14th annual Roundup. The Roundup is scheduled to take place at the MPEC Ray Clymer Exhibit Hall on Saturday, August 6, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Students must qualify for the WFISD lunch program to be eligible to receive supplies, and must also bring proof of eligibility, which includes any proof of receiving government assistance. Additionally, qualifying families can either bring a filled-out student registration card for each child receiving supplies, or fill one out in-person at the event. Children are not required to attend the event, and students under the age of 16 are required to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
President and board chair of Project Back to School Cheryl Ritchie said Project Back to School will provide school supplies for 5,880 kids in total this year – about 1,000 less than normal. Supplies for roughly 3,700 of those children are projected be handed out at the Roundup.
Ritchie said even with the reduced number of schoolchildren being helped, Project Back to School’s costs totaled $30,000 more than last year due to higher prices on consumer goods.
“This year we are experiencing a very large [price] increase in our school supplies. Just like everything else, when you go to the supermarket or any consumer goods you’re seeing a large increase, and we have also been affected by that,” Ritchie said.
The increased price tag, which Ritchie said caused some “sticker shock,” is the result of negotiating down from an initial price of $40,000 over last year’s total. Ritchie said she expects to continue to deal with high prices in future years.
“Going forward, it will take a lot more money to continue to do Project Back to School to the scale that we are,” Ritchie said, adding “I think everybody’s feeling the pinch.”
Ritchie said the biggest impact of the event comes in saving money for parents, who may already have to deal with other back-to-school expenses like clothes. Ritchie also said that despite increased costs, Project Back to School projects to be able to provide each student’s supplies for around $20.
“We’re giving [students] exactly what they need. And I do feel like, even though my cost is higher, I can probably get it cheaper than parents can, just because I work with volume,” Ritchie said.
This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: Project Back to School plans to help thousands