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UPS, county gather backpacks for students heading back to school

As kids are preparing for a new school year, county officials and a company in Lackawanna County are helping those kids by passing out free backpacks.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Boxes were carried into the Lackawanna County Government Center in Scranton on Friday by employees of UPS. Inside those boxes were backpacks donated by employees to be given to kids getting ready to head to school in Lackawanna County.

"They are full of supplies: pencils, pens, crayons, glue sticks, erasers, anything the kids need for school. They started out with about 20, 25 backpacks seven years ago, and every year it increases," said Lisa Gruszewski from the Lackawanna County Office of Youth and Family Services.

This is the seventh year that UPS has donated backpacks to the county's Office of Youth and Family Services. Gruszewski coordinates this effort for the county and says many families struggle financially.

"There's very much a need for them because children need them; they need the supplies. To get a backpack for $30, and then you get the supplies for an additional $30. Sometimes the family doesn't have the $60 for one child, let alone if there's four or five children in the home."

Some school districts in Lackawanna County are requiring clear backpacks, and some of those were donated as well.

"Scranton School District and Valley View School District are going clear this year, and I asked if they could try to get some, if they could, in clear. There's a very low amount to try to get clear. Not a lot of places are selling them, but they did their best, and we do have 75."

UPS employees have donated hundreds of backpacks over the years, including another 100 this year, to make sure kids going back to school start the year on a positive note.

"The kids are very grateful," Gruszewski said. "They ask for them, they like getting them, and I'm very grateful for ups for doing that."

Caseworkers with the county said they expect the backpacks are already in the hands of those kids they work with.

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