By Kristine Sorensen

PITTSBUGH (KDKA) — It is hard to think about heading back to school in the thick of summer, but local non-profits have to do that just to be ready. They are collecting supplies for kids in need, and they need your help.

School supplies are expensive, so for families who are just struggling to get by, it can be a real challenge. The average price of school supplies for an elementary school student is $200; for a middle school student, it’s $330; and for high school kids $375.

That’s why the South Hills Interfaith Movement, or SHIM, is helping give away supplies.

“We really want to support families in being able to afford those things,” says Courtney Macurak, SHIM Program Coordinator.

She says they don’t want anyone to have to “choose between paying a bill and sending their children back to school with new school supplies so they can be ready to learn.”

SHIM is asking people to donate any school supplies — things like pencils, markers, folders, binders, glue sticks, Kleenex. Donations can be dropped off by August at their location in Bethel Park – 5301 Park Avenue, right near South Park.

CentiMark, a national commercial roofing and flooring company headquartered in Washington County, donated 700 brand new Jansport backpacks for SHIM to donate to local children. Now, they need help with donations of the supplies to go with them.

They will be distributing the backpacks and supplies at three celebrations coming up in August, allowing each child to take what they need for their school. The supplies and backpacks will go to any children grades K-12 who attend school in the six districts they serve: Bethel Park, Baldwin-Whitehall, Keystone Oaks, Mount Lebanon, Upper Saint Clair and Keystone Oaks.

In fact, 4,000 kids in the South Hills qualify for free or reduced lunch, and SHIM knows there are many more who don’t qualify and still need help, so no proof of income is necessary to receive the school supplies.

“Our back to school celebration is just that — a celebration,” Macurak says. “They’ll be able to come to our locations and kind of “shop” for their supplies — choose the backpack they like most and choose school supplies they need.”

The three celebrations are Monday, Aug. 14 from 1-4 p.m. at the Baldwin United Presbyterian Church; Thursday, Aug. 17 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at PPFC and Friday, Aug. 18th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Bethel Park Community Center.

For more details, go to http://shimcares.org/

And next week, you can get a list of more places where you can donate or get help with school supplies on Kidsburgh.org. You’ll also find many more resources there for kids and families.

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