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Schuylkill United Way breaks backpack record

Right now, people across Schuylkill County are working to prepare kids for the upcoming school year.

POTTSVILLE, Pa. — Volunteers filled the Salvation Army in Pottsville to pack backpacks with new school supplies.

Through the Stuff The Bus initiative from Schuylkill United Way, 2,115 students across the county will walk into their first day of class with everything they need.

It's a record year as this is the most backpacks the Schuylkill United Way has ever donated.

"Right now, the families are not able to make ends meet. I so wish that they were, but they're not. So with us doing this, it gives them approximately $80 into their pockets," Kelly K. Malone, Schuylkill United Way executive director, said.

Over the past 20 years, the Schuylkill United Way has seen the need for school supplies grow and has partnered with programs across the county to reach more families.

"Our kids that are coming to SARCC, they've already experienced some kind of trauma. And having to worry about 'if my backpack is cool' or 'if I have the right colored pens' is something we can take off of their plates so they can work on school work and dealing with their own traumas," Clarissa Geary, Sexual Assault Resource And Counseling Center, said.

The backpacks are not just for the first day of school. Agencies like the Red Cross distribute them throughout the school year for families who have fallen on hard times.

"This kind of day-to-day stuff is a lot of what people lose, and they don't think about how challenging it can be to replace," Peter Brown, Red Cross PA Rivers Chapter director, said.

Volunteers say their goal is to make sure students in need have the same supplies as their classmates.

"It's a great thing for the community, it's going to bring a smile to 2,000 faces, and it's hard not to feel awesome about being able to help with that," Brown said. 

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