FOR children from military families, deployment of a parent is hard enough. Moving every few years is a given. Financial hardship is common, especially among enlisted and lower-ranking service members.

As these men and women serve their country, communities should step up to ensure their children are taken care of and able to attend school armed with the tools of learning.

School-supply programs such as Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade are distributing much-needed backpacks to nearly 3,000 service members’ children at six different Western Washington sites, beginning on Thursday in Everett and ending Friday, Aug. 22, in Oak Harbor. Registration is required and more information is available at

Readers can help Operation Homefront by donating supplies at any Dollar Tree store through Thursday. The Back-to-School Brigade gives priority to kids whose parents are junior to mid-grade level members of the service, known as E-6 or below. Some are active duty. Others are wounded.

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Waitlists for supplies are common, especially around Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Organizers report demand grows every year for families, some with as many as nine children.

“When families come to the event, the kids’ eyes light up and they tell other families who might not know about it,” says Janice Collee, director of programs for Operation Homefront’s Pacific Northwest Field Office.

In practical terms, families that benefit from supply drives can save their limited dollars for other purposes, such as housing, clothes and food.

Readers are invited to help Operation Homefront. Or they can assist thousands of other children in need by supporting The Seattle Times’ annual drive. Proceeds from this campaign are divided among three regional providers of school supplies: Hopelink, YWCA of Seattle-King County-Snohomish County and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness.

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