By GERARD NOLAN
With the high price of school supplies rising sharply over the past year, parents will be saddled with large bills before the school year begins.
But Tuckahoe resident Hazel Alexander-Campbell wants to ease that financial burden for her neighbors with school-age children.
For the past few weeks, the longtime resident activist has enlisted the help of local residents and businesses to contribute school supplies for the 61 children that reside in the Tuckahoe Housing Authority, located on Union Place. The community has responded with a groundswell of support.
“It’s grown and grown,” Alexander-Campbell said of the school supply drive, which she hopes will continue to grow.
The Tuckahoe resident said she wanted to find a way to help the children who lived at the authority.
“I thought about what can I do to help the children have a successful school year, so I decided to take on this initiative,” she said.
So far, she has collected pens, notebooks, markers and other necessities. The supplies will be doled out Aug. 22 in the community room of the Tuckahoe Senior Center.
“What we really need now is backpacks, because we don’t have that many backpacks,” Alexander-Campbell’s mother, Louise Alexander, said.
Alexander-Campbell said she hopes to outfit each of the 61 school-age children with a backpack. If she has an overflow of supplies, she’ll look to help other children and parents in Tuckahoe, she said.
The Alexanders hope the support will continue as the campaign winds down next week before the supplies are distributed to the children Aug. 22, just ahead of the first day of school on Sept. 6.
The school supply drive couldn’t come at a better time with the U.S. still reeling from a protracted recession and inflation for the prices of school supplies well outstripping inflation for other consumer goods.
According to the Huntington Bank’s “Backpack Index,” which, each summer, reports on the average prices of school supplies, prices for school supplies increased 7.3 percent since last year while the price of all goods increased only 1.39 percent.
Alexander said the purchase of school supplies saddle a family, especially single-parent households.
“This stuff costs a lot of money,” she said. “A lot of parents have three or four children in a household,” she said. “It’s really hard on them.”
Alan Benedict, owner of Westchester Funeral Home, said he was glad to help people, especially given the state of the economy.
“We knew that these school children need supplies,” he said. “We know there are people in this economy who struggle to make ends meet. We thought that it was a very important thing to do for the community.”
Alexander said the donated supplies will help ease the financial burden for parents of school-age children.
“It makes it easier on the parents,” she said. ‘I’m sure they appreciate. It’s a lot of things that they can use.”
Those interested in contributing supplies to the drive can call Alexander-Campbell at 914-406-2698.