Why hold a school-supply drive if students are likely to be learning remotely when school starts up in September?

Because students will need essential tools of learning regardless of whether they’re learning in school, from home, online or in some shifting combination of the same.

The uncertainty around this school year is exactly what makes this year’s Seattle Times editorial board school-supply drive so important. Every penny of cash donations from Seattle Times readers are directed to community partners who then purchase the necessary supplies — whatever they may be.

Several readers have asked why the school-supply drive is moving forward during this highly unusual school year, when many students are expected to at least begin the semester off site.

“Kids need computers and Wi-Fi,” one reader wrote in response to a recent call for donations. Asked another: “Supplies? To sit at home in front of a computer?”

The confusion is understandable, given the novelty of remote instruction. But distance learning is not just about staring at a computer screen — thank goodness.


Even if the home is their classroom for the entire school year, younger children will still be coloring, cutting and practicing handwriting. Older students will scribble notes from lectures and readings. They may need other materials, like headphones, scientific calculators, flash drives — supplies they won’t be able to borrow from classmates or teachers if everyone is learning off-site.

Cash donations are easy to distribute, and our partners ensure not a single penny is wasted on materials that are available through other sources, or that students will not need. They are an efficient and effective way to help in even the most predictable year.

In 2020, when plans seem to change almost as quickly as they’re adopted, that kind of flexibility is invaluable. Seattle Times readers’ generous contributions give community partners the resources they need to fill in the gaps.

No one knows exactly what the fall semester will look like, that’s why it’s critical to work together to ensure children have the tools they will need.

HOW TO HELP: 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 about donations to ffn@seattletimes.com.