Check before you jot down the shopping list or pry open your wallets for the back-to-school shopping trek: You might not need to spend so much — or at all.
The Cortland School District will provide all needed supplies for students for the second year, said Superintendent Michael Hoose, paid for by piecing together funds from various grants.
“We had some families that had to make a decision between school supplies and necessities like food, and we figured if we did it for some, we should do it for all,” Hoose said.
For kids outside the Cortland district, some agencies are providing free backpacks and supplies.
The YWCA Bridges for Kids program will provide about 200 kids with backpacks and supplies from 4 to 6 p.m. Aug. 29 at the YWCA, said program Director Mindy Gardner. The program sets up kids with mentors and in addition to backpack giveaways, it also hosts Christmas gift giveaways and Thanksgiving dinners for participating families.
Pastor Jon North, of Believers’ Chapel on Route 222 in Cortland, said the church is giving away about 500 backpacks this year and some school supplies, as well.
The back-to-school party will be 3 to 6 p.m. Sept. 1 and is open to anyone.
Because the bulk of kids come from the Cortland School District, North said, much of the funding for supplies has been diverted into buying 75 pairs of new shoes.
It is the fifth year the church has had a back-to-school party, he said, but the first time shoes will be given away at it. The event will also offer free haircuts for children who want it.
“Anyone can come and get a backpack if they need one,” he said.
Groton Central School District will provide most supplies, but not all, said Superintendent Margo Martin. Students will soon get an abbreviated supply list.
“We provide most of the supplies for students,” she said, starting two years ago.
The district also has support from two community organizations, which supply backpacks and supplies, she said: the Groton Assembly of God and the Rotary.
“It was kind of a district board and district decision,” she said. “We were already asking families to give us money via tax dollars so why are we asking for even more?” she said.
• Ease back into scheduled days. To ease the transition to the early-morning school bus rush, start a week or two before the first day. Begin the bedtime routine 10 minutes earlier each night and wake them up 10 minutes earlier each morning.
• Stay connected to nature. Going back to class doesn’t mean saying goodbye to the outdoors. Get outside together after the school day ends, for as long as the warm weather lasts. When the air turns cold, hold a “camp-in,” suggests Sarene Marshall, director of The Nature Conservancy’s global climate change team: “Set up floor pillows or sleeping bags, turn off all the electronics, and play good, old-fashioned board games.”
• Eat healthy. “While (kids) may be used to having ice cream every night in the summer, start swapping (those) out some nights for fruit Popsicles, frozen yogurt, or baked fruit sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar,” says nutritionist Rania Batanyeh of San Francisco.
• Spend one-on-one time with your child daily. Enjoy a quiet activity together for 15 minutes a day with each child. Read some books, make up a story, gaze at the stars. Give them your undivided attention.