There’s an extra buzz of excitement as students prepare to return to classrooms after a year of pandemic worry and disruption.

But for parents like Jessica Messner-Hendrickson, the joy is tempered by worry. Buying back-to-school necessities for five children is a heavy lift.

That’s especially true if you’re only working part time, as Messner-Hendrickson is — for now, at least. She’s looking for a second job. She and her 18-, 16-, 15-, 13- and 10-year-old children have lived in Hopelink’s Duvall Place for just over a year, after leaving a violent home environment.

“It’s been very helpful to have a place to call home,” she said, “and to heal.”

She can’t wait for the start of the school year, when her kids will once again be able to socialize with peers in school hallways and benefit from hands-on instruction. They really missed that last year, she said.

A backpack full of school supplies feeds students’ back-to-school elation. The fresh wood smell of pencils and the unmarked sheets of blue-lined notebook paper herald the start of a new school year for young people eager to learn.


Reader donations to the annual Seattle Times editorial board school-supply drive help parents like Messner-Hendrickson get excited kids ready for learning. Each year, from July 4 through Labor Day, donations are collected and distributed to community partners, Hopelink, YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish and Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. The drive is part of The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy, a registered 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization. Last year, more than 1,000 readers chipped in, donating a combined $164,569 to help thousands of students in need.

This year, as school districts plan for a full return to classrooms, it’s more important than ever to support King and Snohomish county students. Please give generously, if you can.

Donate online. Checks may also be sent to: The Seattle Times School-Supply Drive, P.O. Box C-11025, Seattle, WA 98111; email questions to