As the Puget Sound region closes the books on a highly unusual school year, Seattle Times readers have another opportunity to open their pocketbooks to help equip area students for the year to come.

The Seattle Times editorial board’s annual school-supply drive kicks off this week to provide students in need with the essentials of learning — notebooks, calculators, pencils, paper and other materials. Although fall semester may not look the same as it has in years past, the need for school supplies remains.

In fact, the economic uncertainty and school disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created an even greater need, as families deal with job loss, reduced work hours and the added strain of distance learning.

At the same time, social distancing and hygiene requirements are forcing community partners to forego supply drives at workplaces and businesses, making cash donations an especially welcome way to help.

For more than two decades, Times readers’ generosity has funded school supplies for thousands of students in King and Snohomish counties. Every penny of their cash donations helps stuff thousands of back-to-school backpacks distributed by our three partners: Hopelink, YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness.

From now until Labor Day, the editorial board will share some of the stories of the volunteers, educators and beneficiaries of this important annual event.

Together, we can help ease the financial back-to-school burden. Please spread the word, and give generously. Local students and their families are counting on you.

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