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Drives for supplies ease the burden

Published 9:13pm Thursday, September 5, 2013

During the past few weeks, Suffolk has been in back-to-school mode. Suffolk’s public schools went back Tuesday and its private schools somewhat earlier.

While everything seems like excitement and great expectations to an outsider visiting schools on the first day, underneath the smiling faces there is often less happiness.

If it seems like the current economic downturn has been going on for years, that’s because it has.

The credit crunch started the downward trend in 2008 — five long years ago. While things like jobs reports and home construction statistics indicate an improving situation, many families are hard-pressed to see it in their own lives.

The stress is often detectable on the faces of parents during the first day back. They put on brave smiles for the sake of their children, but the slight slump of the shoulders and uncertainty of gait reveals the truth.

When family budgets are hit, school supplies can become victims of prioritization. Colored pencils and bookbags are shuffled down the line, behind mortgage payments — or partial ones — food and gas.

It’s one of the many less-obvious tragedies of austerity. The dinted confidence of attending the first day of middle school wearing sneakers with holes translates to less classroom interaction, lower grades and, eventually, poorer job prospects.

In the face of this, it’s heartening to see so many groups and individuals doing something to help.

Mid to late summer is the season of back-to-school supplies drives, and we have reported on several of them. Oakland Christian Church gathered supplies for students at Oakland Elementary School. Suffolk Parks and Recreation set up collection points.

Lake Kennedy Civic League handed out donated backpacks. Little Mt. Zion Baptist Church held a car show to fund supplies.

Just last weekend, the Y2K Academy distributed donated supplies, including girls’ clothing, at a back-to-school event.

The back-to-school tax holiday also deserves a mention, with the commonwealth effectively forgoing a weekend of revenue to help parents get the things they need for their kids.

Without these initiatives, parents’ first-day-back body language would have been even more obvious, and it would have filtered down to more children.

Society in general, not just individual lives, will be impacted by the successes and failures in schools today.

Thanks to organizers of and givers to school-supplies drives, more success will come than otherwise would have.

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