MENASHA, Wis. - Backpacks, headphones, crayons, and more. The school supply lists are long and expensive. According to a new survey by consulting firm Deloitte, the estimated back to school cost this is year is $500 per child. Thankfully, a local non-profit organization is easing the financial strain for families in need of extra support.
Julianne Rajacic is a single mom who is providing for six children. They're among the 700 students who have signed-up for the Cool for School program.
"It fills in the gaps where we can't," she explained. There's so many pencils and notebooks and folders that everybody needs. It's ten cents here and 25 cents there, but in reality with six kids, it does add up."
With having to purchase all those supplies, some families have to forget buying new back to school outfits. That's where the Community Clothes Closet in Menasha steps in. Through their Cool for School event, children can pick out two brand new shirts, a pair of pants, socks, underwear and a gift card for a new pair of shoes, all free of charge.
"That little bit saved at home goes a long way for us."
It does for Sin Everhart as well. She has nine children.
"It lifts a big burden. It really does."
For her, the Cool for School event runs even deeper than receiving a basic necessity for her kids.
"It makes them feel good about themselves."
Executive Director Diane MacDonald says, "It really helps with our kids' self esteem, gets them ready to learn, so they can focus on their studies and really not worry about maybe their ill fitting clothing."
In the seven years the program has existed, 2,500 children have received new back to school clothing worth $25,000.
"We couldn't do it without our donors. We say that everyday. We can turn our lights on and open our building because of our donors," MacDonald said.
Nicolet National Bank is one of many coporate donors that gives grants to ensure the Community Clothes Closet has a wide array of sizes and styles, so every child is taken care of.
"The kids that come into the bank, some of them you do see here. It's great to know that hey we helped some of our clients and people in our community out," said Tim Vogelsang with Nicolet National Bank.
Everhart is very grateful. "I can't thank them enough."
Rajacic says she's also thankful that her children can now start the new school year off on the right foot.
"When the kids can wear what the other kids are wearing or I can wear what the other moms are wearing, it just makes you feel a little bit more like a person."
The Cool for School event is happening this Friday and Saturday, and clients will notice a new feature this year. Four education stations will be set up. The St. Joseph Food Program will teach kids about healthy after school snacks. Tri-County Dental will talk about good oral hygiene. The Menasha Police Department will educate children about stranger danger and cyber security, and The American Red Cross will speak about the importance of having an emergency plan for kids who stay at home alone after school.