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NORFOLK -- The cost of going back to school can give parents a harsh lesson in economics.

The National Retail Federation figures from last year show families with children K-12 spent $95.44 on school supplies for each child, $129.20 on shoes, and $603.63 if you add in things like electronics.

Total back-to-school spending in America is expected to top $30 billion.

It doesn't take a lot of homework to know that in this economy, there are many families that simply can't afford all of the required essentials.

That's where our Write Stuff school supply drive comes in.

Last year, 13News Now viewers donated enough supplies to help 3,300 students in more than 1,200 families.

That includes Chanelle Hartley's family.

'It means a lot. I'm a single parent; I have 3 children,' Hartley said. 'School supplies, they can be expensive when you have to buy 2, 3 of the same thing for several children.'

Hartley also works long hours to provide for her children, but it's tough to make ends meet. She's quick to point out a donation to the Write Stuff is not a hand out. She makes sure her children work hard with the school supplies they're given. Her son, who's in middle school, and her 9-year-old daughter both made the honor roll last year.

Her youngest child is about to start kindergarten.

'If I get a C, or D, or E, I would be on punishment,' Bonnie Hopkinson, Hartley's 9-year-old daughter, said.

'When we come to C's and D's, I don't speak that language because I know their potential, and I know what they can do.'

Her son wants to be an architect, and her daughter, Bonnie, loves math and wants to be a teacher.

Hartley says because of the Write Stuff, they're equipped on day one to try to achieve whatever they set their minds to.

'It's very important for them to be ready for the first day of school so they can go in and be ready to listen and focus and they have everything they need to get their work done,' Hartley said. 'They're both focused, honor roll students. They're both in the gifted classes, so I see very bright futures ahead of them....the Write Stuff means a lot.'

In the past 4 years, more than 5,900 families and 14,600 children received school supplies thanks to the Salvation Army and your donations to the Write Stuff.

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