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As soon as school breaks for summer, Stephanie Nguyen begins to field calls from anxious parents — up to 10 per day — requesting help with school supplies.

Nguyen, a case worker with the YWCA’s Greenbridge branch office in White Center, helps low-income residents in South King Countyfind jobs. Most clients are recent immigrants.

All of them live in subsidized housing. In the process of polishing their résumés and connecting them to work training opportunities, she sees firsthand the struggles they face before school begins in the fall.

“If we have school supplies to give to the kids, it relieves the burden for the parents. … When they don’t have the money, they get so stressed out and can’t concentrate on the job search,” she says.

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In her caseload this year, 113 kids need help with backpacks and school supplies. Distribution began this week. As of Wednesday, Nguyen still needed about 40 more backpacks. She can only help her own clients. Other case workers and many kids need assistance in the region.

The YWCA Seattle-King County-Snohomish County is one of three nonprofits that benefit from the generosity of Times readers each summer through the newspaper’s annual school-supply drive. Proceeds also benefit children associated with the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and Hopelink.

All help ensure children start the school year without fear of looking different and lacking the tools of learning.

“My clients really want their kids to be in school,” Nguyen says. “A lot of them are refugees who couldn’t go themselves. And here, they have the opportunity, so why not? The parents want to take advantage of this so their kids have a good future.”

With school set to begin in less than two weeks, please continue to help.

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

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