School supplies laid out for children at the beginning of the school year. Humboldt County nonprofits are offering free and discounted school supplies to families as the amount families spend on back-to-school shopping reaches an all-time high. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images for Levi’s)

The amount families and teachers spend on school supplies has been steadily increasing over the past decade, but local nonprofits are working to ease some of that burden.

The Salvation Army and SCRAP Humboldt are offering assistance with purchasing supplies for back-to-school shoppers. The Salvation Army is offering assistance to low-income families who sign up between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday by calling 707-442-6475. SCRAP Humboldt is offering everyone the opportunity to come in and fill a bag with school supplies for $10, or $5 for members of the nonprofit, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

Malia Matsumoto, director of SCRAP Humboldt, said the community is generous toward the organization with its donations so they “wanted to be able to give back.” In addition to giving students and teachers the opportunity to fill up a bag for a fixed price, Matsumoto said the nonprofit is also giving away free supplies to 25 teachers throughout the county.

“It’s very exciting,” Matsumoto said. “We have teachers coming from Hoopa, Rio Dell, Blue Lake, Eureka, Manila — teachers from literally all over our county are coming to receive supplies for free.”

SCRAP Humboldt is offering everything from traditional classroom supplies, such as markers, binders, notebooks and crayons, to non-traditional items, such as trophies, fabrics and other materials that can be used for projects.

“Most teachers are really inclined to manipulate and see things beyond their original intent and usage,” Matsumoto said.

Students can also use the materials for dioramas and other projects, she said.

Bags can be bought at the register and all materials that can be put in the bag for a flat price will have a star on them.

J.D. Courrier, social service coordinator with the Salvation Army, said the nonprofit is limited on backpacks, but has plenty of other supplies like paper, glue sticks, binders and protectors.

After signing up, families will get a time slot for the following day to come pick up the items, at which time adults need to bring a photo ID, some form of ID for any kids and proof of income, Courrier said.

Back-to-school spending is anticipated to reach record levels this year with families expected to spend an average of $696.70 on supplies, an increase from $684.79 last year, according to data from the National Retail Federation. That average is the highest ever recorded by the federation for back-to-school spending.

“Families with college students are expected to spend an average of $976.78, which is up from last year’s $942.17,” according to the federation.

Meanwhile more than 94% of teachers spend their own money on school supplies, with teachers spending an average of $479 per year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Sonia Waraich can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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