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Most kids head back to school next week, but more can be done to help children from poor families get ready for the challenges of a new year.

Many thanks to readers for embracing The Seattle Times’ annual school-supply drive, intended to spare every child in the region the embarrassment of entering class on the first day without basic tools of learning.

Three area organizations — Hopelink, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and YWCA Seattle King Snohomish — have helped to turn your dollars into thousands of backpacks filled with pencils, crayons, paper and more.

Challenges remain.

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Coalition Executive Director Alison Eisinger says requests for supplies continue to roll in. Last year, more than 6,000 students in King County public schools experienced homelessness. Within that year, the coalition estimates 41 percent of homeless kids attended two different schools; 28 percent attend three or more.

“Each disruption makes it likely that a student will fall four to six months behind their classmates who have a stable place to live,” Eisinger says.

That reality underscores the importance of ongoing support to ensure these students have year-round help.

For the YWCA, financial gifts from all over enabled its case workers to provide backpacks to a record 2,000 kids this year. However, supply costs are on the rise and the YWCA could not fulfill every item on each child’s back-to-school list.

Hopelink is still handing out supplies and is on track to meet demand this year, but the nonprofit serving north and east King County reports a last-minute shortage of items such as kid-friendly backpacks without business logos, USB drives and other essentials.

With less than one week to go before school starts, readers can help to erase these challenges by giving just a little more.

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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