By Jackie Ward

SUNNYVALE (KPIX) — For families heading back to school, we don’t have to tell you – it just keeps getting more expensive.

New numbers from Deloitte show the average Bay Area household is spending $611 this year, up 1.7% from last year. But the community in Sunnyvale is stepping up to help.

“This one?” “Yeah, I love that one.”

For soon-to-be fourth grader Calia, she gets to rock a new backpack this fall. For her mom Claudia, it’s a godsend.

“Unless you have the time to look for sales and to be able to drive around town throughout the day, you’re really stuck spending what you don’t have to make sure the kids and the teachers have what they need to succeed in their classroom,” Claudia told KPIX 5.

Romero is one of hundreds of families who went to Sunnyvale Community Services (SCS) to help her four kids get ready to return to school. She says it’s a task that would normally cost her up to $300, not including new clothes.

“They’re helping our budget by just helping our family a little bit with what the community gives,” Romero said. “So we’re able to pay a little more rent, or be able to get the kids something like shoes or a jacket that they may need.”

Each student at SCS got a backpack filled with whatever they need to be a success in the classroom. And for their growing feet, a $40 gift card to buy new shoes.

SCS calls it their “Head to Toe” program. It’s their single busiest day of the year.

“Whatever I have to do to make sure my kids stay here, working two jobs or whatever I have to do,” Romero told KPIX 5. “It’s worth it just because you have that support from our community and they’re thriving, social adults when they grow up.”

Romero has a lot on her plate; she provides her mom and sister with special care, all while raising four kids. Her husband is an appliance repairman, but business isn’t steady, which forces the family to make tough financial decisions.

“I really love my community in Sunnyvale,” she said. “I just think that without them, we wouldn’t be able to provide my kids the best education and the best social growing up. I think it’s tougher everywhere else.”

SCS Executive Director Maria Bernard, says this day is the one she looks forward to the most, because she gets to see people like Claudia and her kids get something they may not be able to otherwise.

“These are the future,” Bernard said. “I mean, as you look around and you see these children, they’re going to be the folks who are going to be building the Valley as we know it in the next decades to come. We want them to be successful.”

SCS will also be handing out 100 more backpacks to kids who transferred or to those who are homeless and didn’t make it to the backpack giveaway event. They want to make sure every student has a fresh start for the school year.

According to a survey, more than three in 10 Bay Area shoppers plan to donate supplies, averaging $55 for those who donate. That’s compared to the average of $51 nationally.

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