Families at Brunswick Middle School have a new way to shop for school supplies this summer. The school’s parent teacher organization has partnered with Yubbler, an online, back-to-school supplies program.

All shoppers need to do is visit the Brunswick page of the website, click on their child’s grade, and every school supply they need is available at the click of a mouse. Shoppers can buy the whole list or pick and choose which items they want. Additionally, all shoppers receive free, next-day delivery, and half the profits go back to Brunswick Middle.

Ellen Fowler, PTO president, said the partnership arose from a need in the community. The Brunswick area has a limited number of stores that sell affordable school supplies, Fowler said, and families often end up visiting three or four different retailers just to get everything on the list, which is a strain on time and money.

“We want to enjoy the time with our kids during summer if we can have it, and ... so many of our parents these days, both parents have to work,” Fowler said. “It’s very difficult to find that time to go get everything.”

After hearing these frustrations, the PTO decided to act.

In December, an online poll was conducted asking families if a service like Yubbler would be of interest.

According to Fowler, 77 percent of respondents favored the service, but families wanted to be able to customize their orders.

“They didn’t want to place a blanket order and not be able to delete things from it ... [and] have to pay for stuff they did not need,” Fowler said.

Families wanted customization because a lot of supplies needed in middle school can be reused from year to year, such as calculators and locks for lockers.

After responses from the poll were received the list of possible companies was cut from 20 to three. Yubbler won the bid because it offered the lowest prices.

Fowler said Yubbler also offered other features such as an option for shoppers to donate to the PTO when checking out and discounts each month.

If shoppers purchased supplies in April, they would receive 20 percent off their order as an incentive to buy early. This month, the discount is 7.5 percent, and in August it will be 5 percent.

“I think a lot of people looked at it and were like, ‘Wow, school hasn’t even ended and you want me to buy school supplies.’ That was difficult,” Fowler said. “But in June, as soon as school ended, people started buying.”

The program has been a success. Fowler said the positive feedback from families is encouraging her to renew the partnership for next year.

“It just gives an option for the parents,” Fowler said. “I’ve got a busy summer. I’ve got vacations, I don’t want to deal with this extra chore. ... You go on to the system, you click your kid’s grade ... and check out, and you’re done.”

The partnership will end in August, and Fowler said if students need supplies afterward, they can get them from the Brunswick Middle School store, whose items will be purchased using the returned profits.

The remaining funds, Fowler said will be used by the PTO to help low-income students purchase supplies and address other school needs such as buying cases of bottled water for field trips.

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill.

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