The messages are handwritten on flowered stationery, jotted on sticky notes or pages from those freebie notepads that accompany solicitations from charitable organizations. A few are typed on official letterhead and signed by hand.

The script is as unique as the writer, but the sentiments are variations on a theme:

“Thank you for helping many students get a great start for school.”

“Thank you and good luck to all our teachers.”

“Please accept the enclosed donation to help the kids.”

The notes are accompanied by donations ranging from $10 to more than $1,000, money that will go to help community partners equip area students with the essential supplies of learning as the school year opens.

For more than two decades, The Seattle Times editorial board’s annual school supplies drive has raised readers’ cash donations to help students in King and Snohomish counties. These short notes are a warm reminder that this annual event is about more than distributing pens and pencils — it’s about connecting people.

That’s especially important this year, as students and families navigate the uncertainties of schooling in the thick of a public-health emergency. In a time when social-distancing measures can leave us feeling more isolated from each other, the notes remind us that we’re all in this together. That we can support our neighbors even while staying physically apart.


“Students need supplies regardless whether they are in a school building or at home online,” wrote Sister Judith Desmarais on behalf of the Sisters of Providence Peace Community in Seattle. “The uncertainty of not knowing exactly where they will be is hard on the children as well as the parents. We want to help those in our area who are experiencing the pandemic. Your direct service is critical. This is a gospel work for God’s people.”

Enclosed was a donation of alms money from the sisters, many of whom are former teachers, Desmarais said in a follow-up interview.

“We use that [money] for situations that we see need help,” she said.

Desmarais said she, herself, was a teacher in Vancouver, Washington, in the late 1960s. Later, she taught at Holy Family Catholic School in White Center. She knows firsthand the importance of supporting every child’s education.

“Each one is a child of God and needs to develop their full potential,” she said.

Together, Seattle Times readers have raised well over $100,000 annually in recent years for this worthy enterprise. This year, one generous reader donated an eye-popping $10,000 to the cause. Donations of any dollar amount are deeply appreciated. Every penny goes to our three partners: Hopelink, YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness.

All or part of your gift may be tax deductible as a charitable contribution to The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy, a registered 501(c)(3) organization. Please confirm with your tax adviser.

HOW TO HELP: The easiest way to donate is online. Checks also may be sent to: The Seattle Times School-Supply Drive, P.O. Box C-11025, Seattle, WA 98111. Email questions about donations to