United Way holds backpack giveaway

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – With the help of Huntington Bank, the United Way was able to stuff a bus full of backpacks that will be distributed to kids in Mahoning, Trumbull, Mercer and Lawrence counties.

“It’s great to see the kids and I hope that we are building them some excitement for back to school so they get off to a great start and do well scholastically,” Huntington Bank Regional President Frank Hierro said.

Huntington Bank is giving away 15,000 backpacks across its 11 markets. Locally, more than 1,500 will be given away.

For the past eight years, Huntington has been tracking the cost of sending children to grades K-12 with its Annual Backpack Index. For the 2014-2015 school year, the cost has jumped as much as 20 percent, one of the largest year-over-year increases in the eight-year history of the Annual Huntington Backpack Index.

While the cost for supplies and school activities continues to climb for families, average hourly nonfarm payroll earnings rose just 2.05 percent between May 2013 and May 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increases in back-to-school costs also far outpaced the Consumer Price Index, which rose 2.1 percent for the same time period.

According to the Huntington Backpack Index, parents can expect to pay:

  • $642 for elementary school children, an 11 percent increase compared to 2013
  • 918 for middle school children, a 20 percent jump compared to 2013
  • $1,284 for high school students, a 5 percent increase compared to 2013

The United Way organizations working with Huntington to distribute the backpacks to local schools are:

  • Mahoning (United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley)
  • Trumbull (United Way of Trumbull County)
  • Mercer (United Way of Greater Mercer County)
  • Lawrence (United Way of Lawrence County)

“We found out that a lot of kids go back to school and don’t have these supplies needed to get off to a good start. So these backpacks will certainly help,” said Bob Hannon, director of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.

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