Parents who can’t afford school supplies get help

Going back to school can be both an exciting and scary time for kids.

But for some parents in our area, it’s one of the most stressful times of the year because of the costs involved.

Many families in our area can’t afford school supplies, which is why Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army and several area hair stylists are putting on their back-2-school event, in the La Crosse center.

They’re giving away backpacks, school supplies, clothing and haircuts to get kids ready for their first day back.

Chris Clemmerson, a parent of four, said, “I’m a grown man but I almost want to cry sometimes because it seriously helps a lot.”

Clemmerson’s kids had fun getting their hair cut and picking up school supplies with their dad, but before he found out about the back 2 school event, Clemmerson was worried.

“I was kind of sitting at home, thinking ‘What am I going to do this year? How am I going to get my kids school supplies?,'” Clemmerson asked.

Clemmerson works as a meat packer in Norwalk but needed help getting his kids ready for school.

“This year especially, I needed help,” Clemmerson said.

Shannon Parker, the financial wellness advocate for Catholic Charities says people like

Clemmerson are the reason they give out school supplies.

“It really does mean food on the table or the school supplies for the kids,” Parker said.

Parker said the price of school supplies, backpacks, clothes and haircuts can quickly add up especially for families with multiple kids, which is why this event can be so crucial.

“I think it helps more than we ever know,” Parker said.

Kelley Manson with the Salvation Army said it really helps the kids.

“Take away the worry of whether or not they have the right supplies whether or not they have clean clothes to have the next day,” Manson said.

Manson said if a student doesn’t have those things, they’re at a huge disadvantage.

“They can stop comparing themselves to everybody else, stop thinking about what they don’t have [and] start thinking about their schoolwork,” Manson said.

Clemmerson can’t even imagine what he would do without this event.

“It’d be stressful we’d try to figure out another way to come up with it, which I don’t know that’d be possible,” Clemmerson said.

Event organizers were hoping to give school supplies to a thousand students.

Everything there were donated by individuals and local businesses.