It’s back-to-school season and with a long shopping list of items to purchase, money can be tight for many Maritime families.  

“I’ve got two children and I’m trying to stick around $300 or $400,” says one Fredericton resident.

Kristine Cameron, a spokesperson with Halifax Community and Family Services, echoed that figure today.

“We’re hearing that the cost of sending a child to school is between $300 and $400,” she says.

As students crack their books, some parents are struggling to balance theirs.

Today the Salvation Army in Halifax handed out school supplies to roughly 150 children, which is a higher number than they expected.

‘We did target for up to Grade 6, however we had an outpouring of support so we’re able to help all grades as well as parents returning to school,” says Cameron.

Maritime food banks are also taking donations of school supplies. In Saint John, a local school donated gently used pens, schoolbags and calculators to New Brunswick’s largest food bank, and the items were scooped up right away.

“I didn’t think the need was as bad as it was,” says Brenda MacCallum, who works in the Saint John Community Kitchen.

She says the generousity keeps pouring in. Today one business donated several boxes of used binders that would have likely ended up in the trash.

“I gotta tell you something about the people of Saint John. As soon as they get the word that somebody is in need, they really rally around that need and they’ve provided it time and time again,” says MacCallum.

Cindy MacKenzie is a fundraising co-ordinator with Bell Aliant. She sent out an email, challenging her friends, family and co-workers to fill backpacks full of school supplies. She says she had a huge response within minutes of sending the message.

The packages were delivered today to Feed Nova Scotia in Halifax.

“It’s about more than pencil crayons, it’s about making everybody equal,” says MacKenzie. “And we know how tough children have it these days. It’s just to make them feel like everybody else and that’s really important.”

With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore