I had an epiphany today buying school supplies

School suppliesI had a mission today.  I am participating in a school supplies drive for underprivileged children.  The list of items I have been tasked to buy for each child is reasonable and not frivolous in the least.

I was scanning the weekly ads in this morning’s paper and to my sheer delight, the major retailers were having huge ‘Back to School’ sales.  I decided that today would be a great day to purchase the promised school supplies.

One of the items on the list is a backpack.  Since I have already found a great price for this item online, I had no intent on buying any backpacks today.

I chose to buy the school supplies at one of the major office supplies stores.  My personal directive was to buy a complete set of supplies for two children.  As I perused the store, it became glaringly obvious to me how expensive it is to provide these items, even with the advertised loss leaders.  At that point, it hit me.  How do single parents earning low wages afford these items?  Many parents who are unable to afford back to school supplies for their children are not the beneficiaries of a charitable school supply drive.  My purchases are going to benefit a struggling parent or two.

Even with the advertised specials and the online purchase, the total came to around $200 for two sets of school supplies.  For parents in rural areas without the benefit of a major retailer or internet access, their burden would be much higher.

After buying the supplies, I needed to pick up a few things at Trader Joe’s.  Upon arriving home, I struggled to find space in my pantry for the  groceries that I just purchased.  I had another epiphany.  The same parents that need help with school supplies for their children probably struggle with food insecurity.  I live by myself and have more than enough space in my pantry for a small family.  How many families have plenty of space in their pantries due to the fact they live paycheck to paycheck?  Earlier this year, I watched A Place at the Table, which details the very real struggles of low income Americans dealing with food insecurity.  This documentary opened my eyes.

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