Tight budgets force changes in back-to-school shopping

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MURRAY -- Many kids look forward to back-to-school shopping each year. But many parents are struggling in this economy, as are school districts, so they're getting creative.

This year it's definitely evaluating what we have, what still fits, and adding to that but not replacing it.

–Robyn Taylor-Granda, parent

School for the Granda kids starts in less than a week. The youngest, Sage, has already picked out the outfit she'll wear on the first day.

There are six children in Sage's family who headed back to school this year. Their parents have lost their jobs, so a new wardrobe for the new year wasn't an option. Instead, each child got only the necessities.

"Let's see what you need," Robyn Taylor-Granda told her children. "[It's] not just a given that we're going to go shopping and buy all new clothes."

For parents, like Patty Osterstock, who are back-to-school shopping this year, there are a few extra items on the list.

"All the teachers ask for soap and Clorox stuff or Ziploc bags. I think it's cause they just don't have the funds at schools to supply all that stuff, so they just ask parents for donations," Osterstock said.

The Fort Union Target is seeing parents purchasing items like tissues and toilet paper along with pencils and notepads. Osterstock says she's happy to help out.

"A bottle of soap and some wipes, it's not a big deal -- and the stores usually have good sales to help out too," she said.

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This year, the back-to-school traditions have changed for many families. That's something Steve Giles, the principal at Riverton Elementary School, is very aware of.

"As a district, we're trying to be more sensitive to the economy and making sure that we're not putting more of an undue burden on parents," Giles said.

Sage Granda might not have a completely new outfit, but she is still excited for the first day of school.

"This year it's definitely evaluating what we have, what still fits, and adding to that but not replacing it," Taylor-Granda said.

Giles says he's had a few parents donate more because they know other parents are hurting. He says if you're interested in donating to your child's school, the best thing to do is to ask school administrators at the beginning of the year how you can help.

E-mail: jstagg@ksl.com

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