Help children in need get ready for school and donate to The Seattle Times editorial board’s school-supply drive.

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WHEN Kris Bekter was growing up in the 1970s, she didn’t bring her books to school in a backpack. She carried them in her arms and transported everything else she needed in a purse.

Every fall, she got a new purse that she picked out herself. A new purse wasn’t essential for school success, but “it was a big deal to me,” Bekter said. And so are the new backpacks for students who receive one through The Seattle Times editorial board’s annual school-supply drive.

Bekter works for Hopelink, one of three recipients of donations to the school-supply drive that began on Independence Day and runs through Labor Day.

Help buy supplies

To give online:

Questions? Email:

Or please send checks to: The Seattle Times School Supply Drive, P.O. Box C-11025, Seattle, WA 98111

Last year, 764 generous newspaper readers donated $100,000, which was divided equally among three organizations: YWCA Seattle King Snohomish, Hopelink and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. The money was used to buy school supplies and backpacks for more than 4,400 children around King and Snohomish counties.

Hopelink hopes to fill at least 1,300 brand-new backpacks this summer with school supplies and distribute them to needy families in north and east King County.

The backpacks are pretty basic, mostly solid colors and sturdy construction, but Bekter says the kids who get to pick out their own backpack at a distribution event later in the summer are pretty excited to get to make that choice.

“It’s not just a backpack. It’s what you get to pick for yourself,” Bekter said. “Going back to school is a really big endeavor. Being excited about that is a good thing.”

Cash donations go the furthest, because they enable bulk purchases, but all three organizations and smaller school-supply drives would welcome donations of supplies that families pick up while shopping for their own children.

The school supplies help equalize the first day of school for kids from struggling families. They are distributed in the same communities where the donations come from.

“It’s amazing what that does for self-esteem,” Bekter said. “Fitting in is so darn important for kids.”