Help students who can’t afford $100 calculators and other back-to-school essentials

School supplies get more expensive every year, but Times readers can help families make sure their children have what they need for school by donating to the editorial board’s school supply drive.

THIS happens to most parents at one time or other. Their high-school student comes home from school with information about the expensive graphing or scientific calculator needed for a math class. Most can dig deep and find the money.

For some though, $100 for a calculator is simply out of the question. If students are lucky, their school has loaner calculators donated by former students.

Unlike most technology, graphing calculators haven’t gotten any cheaper in the past few decades. They still cost $90 to $100, and they’re still on most high-school supply lists. And parents are still struggling to find the money to pay for them.

Help buy supplies

To give online, visit:

Questions? Email:

Or please send checks to: The Seattle Times School Supply Drive, P.O. Box C-11025, Seattle, WA 98111

Thanks to the generous readers of The Seattle Times, some of those families can stop worrying. The editorial board’s school-supply drive is helping buy calculators and new backpacks full of the other supplies needed for high school.

Last year, 764 generous newspaper readers donated $100,000, which was divided equally between three organizations — the YWCA Seattle King Snohomish, Hopelink and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. Money raised during the drive that runs through Labor Day filled backpacks for more than 4,400 children around King and Snohomish counties last year.

The need continues to grow and the YWCA alone expects to fill as many as 2,500 backpacks this year. The school supplies are given to low-income families who participate in YWCA services, ranging from transitional housing to job training.

“We want everyone to be able to start the school year on the right foot, feeling ready and confident,” said Annalee Schafranek, a spokeswoman for the YWCA School Days program.

The costs of equipping students for school are growing.

The 2017 Backpack Index from Huntington Bank found parents can expect to spend $662 on elementary-school supplies and fees this school year, a 1 percent increase compared to 2016. The cost for middle-school children: $1,001, which is a 4.6 percent increase compared to 2016. The index says the cost for high-school students actually went down slightly, to $1,489 — including those pricey calculators.

Please consider helping the struggling families in our community by donating to the editorial board’s school-supply drive.

And if you still have a graphic calculator in a drawer somewhere, dig it out and donate it to your local high school.

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