Summertime has kicked off and the thought of school is distant in the minds of many children. However, many low-income parents and grandparents are already thinking about the new academic school year. While parents and guardians with a stable income do not worry about preparations for the upcoming school year, it is a financial burden for families with a limited income. Imagine having to decide between purchasing school supplies or new clothing for a child? This is the reality families in poverty face in Northeast Tennessee.

Families spend a lot on their children’s return to school. According to, families spend an average of $685 in preparing their children for the new school year;  about $120 goes into the purchase of school supplies, while about $500 goes into clothing, shoes, school fees, and field trip fees. For middle-class families, this expenditure could be quite easy to manage, however, for low-income families, these expenses are not easy to manage and they come as a huge burden and a source of worry for them.

According to Good Samaritan Ministries’s Back-to-School program data, almost 50% of the households serviced during the Back-to-School program were grandparents led households. As corroborating evidence, the
2017 fact sheet report of shows that in Tennessee “76,406 grandparents are householders responsible for their grandchildren who live with them.” This report notes that some of these grandparents are under 60, poor, disabled, and working class. These are people who live on social security income, and this income is obviously not enough to cater to the needs of their grandchildren.

Single parents led household also experience hardship in preparing their children for the new school year. The 2016 census report shows that “
12.7 percent of the population — nearly 5 million were moms or dads heading single-parent families; 8.7 million were children under 18 in these single-parent homes” are below the poverty line threshold of 24, 339 for a family of four. Many parents continue to struggle just make ends meet.

How Good Samaritan Ministries Assists Low-Income Families To Prepare For the New Academic Year

Good Samaritan Ministries through our Back-to-School Program helps families to prepare their children for the academic year. Back to School Program targets school-age children from low-income families. These include single-parent and grandparents led households. Necessary school supplies such as backpack, shoes, clothing, and stationery are provided for children. This program caters for the needs of children in elementary school and high school. This program majorly provides for the ninth through twelfth-grade children.

As a grand finale of our Back-to-School program, we organize a Back-to-School Picnic. This is the most important part of our Back-to-School program. This part of the program creates an avenue for families to be entertained, and as well have a wonderful bonding time with their children. On this day, registered children will have their hair cut and styled by volunteer hair styling outlets in Northeast Tennessee. Children will also have the opportunity to play games and have fun. Most importantly, the Back-to-School boxes will be distributed to children on this day.


  1. Become a sponsor. By sponsoring a backpack supply, you will be helping to provide disadvantaged children in our community a strong start for the school year. Our sponsorship opportunities for individuals and groups include: sponsoring a school supply at a sum of $19, sponsoring backpack supplies at $35.00 (Per Child), or donating a sum of $150 for a Back-to-School box for a child. You may also send your donations to P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605 or you may donate online, or you can call 423-928-1958 to donate over the phone.
  2. Organize a school supply drive. Businesses and organizations can support the Back-to-School program by allowing their customers to donate school supplies at their office locations.
  3.  Volunteer

If you have any questions please feel free to call our office at 423-928-0288.

Let’s make this new academic year a memorable one for the underserved children; and remember, putting a smile on a child’s face is a way to combat poverty!