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A STURDY backpack filled with tools of learning helps to ease the start of a new school year for children suffering from homelessness.

Social workers know this all too well. Mid-July is when many case managers come by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness’ Project Cool worksite to load up empty trucks and vans with donated school supplies.

The community’s generosity fulfills their youngest clients’ basic wish to be just like any other kid in their classroom.

“One of the things they fear is their friends will find out they’re homeless and will make fun of them,” says Alyson Moon, family services and shelter director for Mary’s Place in Seattle. Tuesday, she stopped by Columbia City Church of Hope to pick up 75 backpacks.

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The supplies will be distributed to shelter kids at a back-to-school party. It’s welcome relief for displaced parents consumed by other concerns such as where they will stay when night falls, escaping domestic abuse and job loss.

Moon says that no matter their circumstances, these moms and dads understand that education is their child’s best chance to get ahead.

Just as homelessness hinders their parents’ ability to get back on their feet, a lack of access to notebook paper and pencils can profoundly affect a child’s ability to concentrate in the classroom.

An easy fix is to ensure school supplies are one less thing displaced families have to worry about.

Readers are invited to send a donation to The Seattle Times School Supply Drive, P.O. Box C-11025, Seattle, WA 98111.

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Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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