Thanks to Seattle Times readers, thousands of our region’s schoolchildren are poised to march into classrooms this fall proudly equipped for learning.

Readers have donated $103,003 to The Times’ 20th annual school-supply donation drive since July 4. A few days remain until the Labor Day deadline to reach the $110,000 campaign goal, with donations going to Hopelink, the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish.

Selfless contributions for Puget Sound’s schoolchildren extend beyond checks sent to purchase pens and notebooks.

In Lynnwood, Gary Walderman has volunteered to help the YWCA stuff backpacks with school supplies for children in need for several years. This summer’s work to help with the school-supply drive taught him anew how contagious the giving spirit to help students thrive can be.

Walderman, a 22-year Air Force veteran, runs a monthly gathering for veterans called Hero’s Café. Earlier this summer, he sent the group an email asking for school-supply donations.

“When the students have the tools, they won’t have to worry about ‘Where is my pen?’ and start borrowing,” Walderman said. “If they’re shy or don’t have high self-esteem, they might not even start borrowing.


“Now they’ll have all the stuff they need and can start working on their assignments.”

In one day, his group donated $50 and “four of those big plastic bins full of rulers, notebooks, binders, glue, scissors and stuff,” Walderman said.

After he hauled this bounty to the YWCA, he got a call from a retirement and memory-care facility where he also volunteers. Word of the school-supply drive had reached residents there, who had filled another large box with classroom materials.

Then came another call: A third community group had heard about the drive and rounded up more bags of school supplies. Suddenly, Walderman had a third batch of necessary classroom materials to deliver to the YWCA.

“It was just a lot of fun,” Walderman said.

HELP BUY SCHOOL SUPPLIES: Give online; email questions to; or send checks to: The Seattle Times School-Supply Drive, P.O. Box C-11025, Seattle, WA 98111