We hold these truths to be self evident: An educated, engaged population is a cornerstone of our democratic republic.

All of society benefits when children have access to high-quality education that prepares them for the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and the tools they need for learning.

That’s why, on Independence Day, The Seattle Times editorial board is again asking readers to donate money to help purchase school supplies for students in need. The help is appreciated, especially this year, with households facing inflation at 40-year highs. Families are struggling but many won’t need to worry about this expense, nor will children have the embarrassment of not being prepared with the tools of learning.

The school-supply drive is an annual tradition that runs through Labor Day. Retired editorial writer Lance Dickie conceived the idea, an effort that has raised well more than $1 million for students in King and Snohomish counties since 1999.

In that time, thousands of readers have made donations ranging from a few dollars to thousands to help the next generation of leaders get a strong start in school. Last year, 1,044 readers donated a combined $207,265 — an astonishing 166% of our goal.

Every single penny is distributed to community partners: YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish, Hopelink and Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. These trusted organizations use the cash donations to buy supplies in bulk, filling backpacks with supplies needed by students of all grade levels, from crayons to flash drives, notebooks, paper, folders and other essentials.

So please give. And have a happy Fourth of July.

The drive is part of The Seattle Times Fund for those in Need, a registered 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization. The easiest way to donate is online. Checks may also be sent to: The Seattle Times School-Supply Drive, P.O. Box C-11025, Seattle, WA 98111; email questions to ffn@seattletimes.com.