Long Island charity that helps with school supplies has hundreds on wait list

400 children remain on the wait list, and more help is needed

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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August marks the beginning of school for millions of families, but this year, back-to-school shopping may be more stressful than ever before. Stacey Sager has more.

SUFFOLK COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- August marks the beginning of school for millions of families, but this year, back-to-school shopping may be more stressful than ever before.

With consumers already too familiar with increasing rates of inflation, over half of all families are concerned that it will impact their school supply costs, according to Deloitte.

Branches Long Island, which serves thousands each year with its food pantry and household supplies, also has a program in which people can sponsor kids in need for their back to school supplies.

They usually serve about 1,500 families and each student who requests help, but this year, they were stunned when initially far fewer sponsors could help.

"This year, we found ourselves begging for extra help," said Samantha Morales, with the non-profit.

Inflation was cited as the reason, with more people struggling overall.

Their waitlist had 600 kids, which has since been whittled down to about 400, but more help is needed.

Big retailers, like Walmart, Target, and Staples have stepped in to help, but not as much as they used to. And oftentimes, they wait to give Branches what they haven't sold, and that's at the very last minute.

The cost is approximately $65-$75 per student, and sponsors buy the backpacks and supplies and personally drop them off.

Kindhearted donors like Janet Hastvack and her husband have helped four kids this year.

"And you know what, this goes back," Hastvack said. "They're going to remember that someone did this for me, and they're going to pay it forward."

There are many ways to help Branches, and anyone interested can email BranchesLongIsland@gmail.com.

With many schools starting early this year, on September 1, the need is greater than ever.

Experts say the supplies may be material things, but they give the kids so much more, including confidence and peace of mind as they start a brand new school year.

"It's really important to me that they don't feel that they're in need," Morales said. "I think that's really important to kids, when they start school, feeling confident with new supplies and new backpack. They feel just like everyone else."

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