PARIS, Ill. (WCIA) – Every year, districts do school supply giveaways. But it’s not every year that families are facing record-high inflation, impacting everything they’re buying – including the items their kids need for class.

Dozens of families in Paris showed up Monday to a “Back-to-School Bash,” and left with free markers, lunchboxes and more.

The National Retail Federation says back-to-school spending has increased a lot since the pandemic started, and they expect total spending to match last year’s record high of $37 billion.

Back-to-school shopping can already be stressful, especially as inflation continues to drive up the costs of supplies.

“Every time you walk through Walmart, it seems like things have jumped up 10, 20 percent every day,” Randy Crunk said.

That’s why Crunk said the event was a big help. The Paris School District No. 95 invited families to pick up free supplies, take photos and even get free haircuts.

“I think it’s a good thing for the community to do stuff like this to help a lot of people that don’t have no place else to go,” he said.

The National Retail Federation reports that a third of shoppers are planning to spend more on the upcoming school year, causing them to cut back on other things. Crunk raises his grandson, and he said every bit of support helps.

“It’s not everything he needs, but everything we get here is that much we don’t have to worry about trying to buy,” he said.

He’s not the only one who’s noticed the rising prices. Other families wanted to thank the district too.

“Prices were definitely up, so this helped out a little bit with the inflation cost of everything,” parent Chris Rhoades said.

Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Larson said the event grows bigger every year.

“Inflation, increased gas prices, I think that’s all been a strain on the pocketbook of our families, so I think it’s nice for them to have access to these resources as they go back to school,” Larson said.

He said the district works to shorten shopping lists for families each year. He’s already gotten positive feedback from parents who stopped by to pick up supplies.

“I actually just had a father stop me and say this is such a great school system and how much he really appreciated it,” Larson said.

It’s just one example out of many communities who are stepping up to help families save money.

“Because we want them to feel good about coming to school on their first day,” Larson said.

He said there will still be more opportunities for families to pick up supplies before the year starts. The Paris School District Open House is August 11 at 4 p.m.

If you haven’t started shopping yet, there’s a statewide sales tax holiday coming up. It runs Friday through August 14. Shoppers can get a bit of a discount on certain clothing and school-related items. The state’s portion of sales tax will be reduced by 5%.