Gift of school supplies helps parents save as students head to class

CHICAGO — Ask any parent and they'll tell you school supplies don't come cheap. In fact, the National Retail Federation estimates parents spend hundreds every year just to check off that back to school supply list.

That wasn't the case for students at Dewitt Clinton Elementary, who all received free school supplies Wednesday gifted by Back2School Illinois.

"Every year we attempt to cover school supplies for thousands of kids here in Chicago...knowing the importance of starting the school year off prepared. We were excited to help every one of Clinton's 1,146 students today," Back2School Illinois CEO Matthew Kurdsman said.

Back2School Illinois will be gifting two schools this year, Dewitt Clinton and Frazier Preparatory Academy. The nonprofit initiative is largely backed by the  charitable arm of the Community Currency Exchange Association of Illinois (CCEA), an industry group made up of currency exchanges across the state.

Algebra teacher Jason Zak was the one who submitted Clinton for the scholarship last spring. He says it was an honor to be chosen.

"A lot of our students here are coming from other countries around the world. We do have a lot of refugees here and a lot of them have never gone to school before so they don't know what they need for school and then there's that economic hardship when they first come over to get school supplies," Zak said.

Visit Back2School Illinois' website for more information or to nominate a school.