YMCA kicks off back-to-school drive

HOUSTON The YMCA of Greater Houston is mobilizing 38 YMCAs, local churches and other community partners to help collect thousands of backpacks and school supplies for children who might otherwise head back to school unprepared. The campaign runs through August 15.

Last year, YMCA Operation Backpack collected more than 18,356 backpacks and about 167,742 school supplies, thanks to generous Houston area donors. All of the items helped prepare 35,130 children for their first day of school. This year's goal is to touch the lives of 40,000 children.

"Many of us remember going to the store with our parents and picking out a brand new backpack and supplies for the school year," said Jamie Clark, YMCA Chaplain. "With the current state of the economy, many parents just don't have the money to buy the supplies their kids need to start the school year. That can be disheartening to the parent, but it can also be disheartening to the child. The YMCA wants to help those families help their kids have a successful year."

Drop-off locations include all YMCA centers and participating churches and locations with YMCA Operation Backpack bins. Shoe Carnival will be participating in Operation Backpack for the second consecutive year, collecting backpacks and schools supplies at its store locations throughout the Houston area. Toyota, also a returning sponsor, will be collecting at its greater Houston area dealerships. For a complete list of drop-off locations, go to ymcaoperationbackpack.org

New this year, Houstonians can make monetary donations to Operation Backpack online. Visit ymcaoperationbackpack.org to contribute, as well as find additional information, including a suggested list of school supplies. All collected backpacks and school supplies will be distributed to children in need within the 31 participating school districts.

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