By John Toole
---- — Back-to-school shopping is revving up, but some families need help with supplies and clothing.
The Salvation Army of Derry, Windham’s Helping Hands, Staples stores and Citizens Bank have campaigns in place to aid them.
The National Retail Federation estimates families will spend an average of $635 this year for clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics for their school-age children.
“That’s not insignificant,” said Susan Hebert, co-chairman of Windham’s Helping Hands.
Helping Hands has a donor tree with apple tags up in Nesmith Library. The charitable group is trying to help 65 families.
“The tags are there now and will be through Aug. 9,” Hebert said. “People can take one. It will have the child’s age, grade and size of clothing. ... It’s very important. This helps them tremendously.”
Donors have until Aug. 12. The goal is to get a backpack for each child, equipped with supplies and two outfits.
“It costs a lot to buy all those supplies,” Lt. Kiley Williams of the Salvation Army of Derry said. “They need so much now.”
The Salvation Army typically helps 150 to 200 families with school supplies and a backpack program. This year, Williams said, 184 are expected to be helped.
People can call the Salvation Army, 434-7790, for a printed list of needed supplies, which include everything from pencils to erasers. They can drop them off at the 18 Folsom Road office.
“The due date is Aug. 9,” Williams said. “We will distribute them Aug. 20 and 21.”
The Salvation Army also partners with Target stores on a supplies project.
“They get $80 to spend for a backpack and supplies,” she said. “If there is anything left over, they can get new shoes or an outfit.”
Families are always appreciative.
“They’re usually very grateful,” Williams said.
It’s not just about the pencils and erasers.
“Some kids get hand-me-down clothes,” Hebert said. “So this is a good confidence builder for them to be able to go to school with new outfits like other kids.”
Denise Doloff, director of development with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, said these campaigns make a difference.
“All children going back to school can benefit from getting supplies,” she said.
Staples, through its Staples for Students national school supply drive, aims to help Boys and Girls Clubs in Derry and Salem. People can donate $1 or more at stores in Londonderry, Salem and Plaistow until Sept. 28.
Citizens Bank will be having a school supply drive through branches in Londonderry, Derry, Pelham, Salem and Windham.
“We are kicking that off this week,” spokesman Kathleen Reardon said. “We provide backpacks for 3,000 children statewide.”
The Upper Room is Derry in one of the programs Citizens Bank aids through the annual Gear for Grades campaign, working this year with Child and Family Services of New Hampshire.
“Citizens Bank has generously donated 100 to 200 backpacks for us each year,” The Upper Room’s executive director Kimberly Bavaro said. “They have been a tremendous partner.”