ALLENTOWN, Pa. - We may be in the middle of summer, but the new school year is on the horizon.

Early back-to-school shoppers are finding higher prices for supplies.

19-year-old Cari Laudenschlager is stocking up for her freshman year of college at New Haven College in Connecticut.

"I'm just buying the basics. Comforter, sheets, desk organizers, pencils, everything," she said.

Sticker shock at checkout is not unexpected for mom Ann.

"Because I see it every week in the grocery store. You look at prices and you're stunned," she said.

Those going back to class will see rising prices for things like notebooks, pens, and markers.

The National Retail Federation says on average households will spend $850 for K-12 supplies.

Like with everything else nowadays, you can blame COVID. When the virus shut down the country supply chains were all stopped. Retailers have had a hard time getting back on track.

At Washington Elementary many parents are in a financial bind, as it has one of the highest poverty rates in the Allentown School District.

"It's been a hardship for them and some are not able to purchase school supplies or uniforms that are needed," said teacher Jillian Emert.

The school district community schools program has donated bags, books, even uniforms, all free to students.

Emert also relies on Donors Choose, a crowdfunding website targeted for schools.

Her classroom has been given $20,000 worth of supplies in the past five years.

"Able to purchase items off Amazon or Staples that my students would love to have in the classroom and that helps them be successful learners," she said.

For Kari King, whatever she buys is priceless, as long as her two boys are back in class come fall.

"Mom freedom, two kids in school and get a couple of hours to myself everyday," King said.

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