Hundreds of backpacks and school supplies were donated to Interfaith Social Services’ annual backpack drive this year.

School is back in session and the financial burden families face each year to outfit their children continues to climb. A 2017 survey by auditing and consulting firm Deloitte has estimated that parents will spend $501 on average per child for back to school purchases. While much of this total goes to clothing and electronics purchases, they estimate parents will spend over $100 for each child on school supplies such as backpacks.

While many households shoulder these costs without a second thought, there are many that struggle with these fees. With help from caring local individuals and partnering businesses, Interfaith Social Services, a multiservice center for South Shore families in need, was able to ease the burden of these annual costs for more than 500 families.

“No child should start the school year unprepared,” said Rick Doane, Interfaith Social Services’ executive director. “We are thrilled to be able to offer backpacks and school supplies to our clients. To defray such a significant cost for families that are already struggling to put food on the table is critical and puts emphasis on the importance of education.”

During the month of August, more than 600 backpacks were distributed to Interfaith’s school-age clients. Children received backpacks filled with supplies such as notebooks, folders, pencils, art supplies and more. Older children were given flash drives to aid in their computer-based projects.

HarborOne Bank donated 100 backpacks which their employees assembled. (L to R): Michael Roberge from HarborOne and Interfaith Social Services volunteers Jim Keenan and Jack Patts of Quincy.

This year Interfaith’s annual backpack drive resulted in shelves overflowing with generous donations from the community. HarborOne Bank employees assembled and donated more than 2,000 backpacks for local kids in need this summer, 100 of which were distributed by Interfaith. Other generous donors include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, East Congregational Church of Milton, Topco Associates LLC of Quincy and South Congregational Church of Braintree.

Corporate volunteer groups from Fast Enterprises and Arbella Insurance spent hours assembling and organizing backpack donations. Eagle Scout candidate Max Esco of Troop 110 in Hingham organized a backpack drive for his Eagle Scout project and was able to donate 70 backpacks to the cause. Countless other individuals and families stopped by with filled backpacks, including some children who purchased supplies with their own money.

“This year Interfaith Social Services is celebrating our 70th anniversary,” said Doane. “South Shore residents founded our organization in 1947 to help local children and families in need. Seven decades later this backpack program harkens back to those roots of community service, neighbors helping neighbors.”

Interfaith Social Services’ backpack drive takes place annually in July, but monetary donations to the program or to help South Shore families in need can be made any time at interfaithsocialservices.org/donate.