A single mum-of-two from Kaeo says having help with back to school costs has lifted a huge weight off her shoulders.
Her boys, aged 12 and 15, are among the more than 44 Northland children who have started the school year on the same footing as their peers - with access to basic school essentials and extra-curricular activities for school and home - after being sponsored through Variety the Children's Charity's Kiwi Kid Sponsorship programme after a Back to School appeal.
The mum, who did not want herself or her kids to be identified, said the cost of sending her kids back to school were massive. The subject fees, which have been covered by Variety, added up to about $700. On top of that, the uniforms and stationery she purchased herself added up to about $550.
"It gets more expensive every year. It's very stressful. I've been lucky enough to have my mum and dad willing to help out so that eased a bit of the stress.
"I worry because I don't want them to get left behind, or made out to look like they're poor because they don't have the stuff. It's a worry not only for me but my boys too."
The mum said she found out about Variety through the school she works at. She received an email about the sponsorship which she distributed throughout the school, but she also decided to take advantage of it and applied for her children to be sponsored.
She said it was a huge weight off her shoulders when she found out that both sons had been sponsored.
"I was absolutely stoked.
"It helps me out so much because now I'm not so tight. It means I have money to go towards their sports gears and other stuff," she said.
The mum said she also bought winter sheets and blankets through the sponsorship which she was incredibly grateful for. She was also happy because it meant she could give her parents, who usually help her out, a break.
"They wouldn't have not helped but I just wanted to not have to lean on them this year," she said.
She said it was "really important" a charity like Variety existed to help parents with back to school costs.
"There are so many other expenses life throw at you and school expenses get higher and higher each year so every little bit of help is awesome."
Lorraine Taylor, Variety's chief executive, said in total, 557 children were sponsored through the appeal.
She said there are still so many children who need a sponsor, including six
from Northland. To sponsor a child head to www.variety.org.nz