Don't let the words "back to school" alarm you — yet.
For most of us, that ritual — and all of the mixed feelings accompanying it — is a good four weeks away (as of this writing).
But it's never too soon to put this on your radar: For struggling families, the need to buy a new backpack, plus notebooks/markers/calculators/what-have-you (not to mention the clothes the kids want!) can be an immense source of stress.
Thankfully, many community efforts have sprung up to help address those needs. Here are a few, the ones that have come into our orbit, by whatever means. Keep them in mind as you're shopping for your own kids, and if you know of other school-supply drives and the like, let us know so we can add them. Make a note in the comments below this story or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(One thing to know: A lot of these efforts are well underway now, and some wrap up before most of us will even have contemplated our own shopping.)
Pants and More Party: noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at Springfree Trampoline, 1875 N.W. Poplar Way, Suite 1, Issaquah, is a carnival-like event with jumping, games, face painting, pony rides and a petting zoo. Donations of new and gently used clothing accepted for Issaquah-based Eastside Baby Corner, which will distribute them for back-to-school purposes.
Shoreline Public Schools collects items to be distributed to families at the district's Back to School Event, which will be August 25 from 12:30-4 p.m. at Ridgecrest Elementary, 16516 10th Ave. N.E.
Needed items include backpacks, school supplies (detailed list here), new socks, underwear, full-size shampoo and conditioner. Items can be left at the Center for Human Services, 17018 15th Ave. N.E.; the Dale Turner Family YMCA, Spartan Gym, Third Place Books, Shoreline Center and all Shoreline and Lake Forest Park Starbucks. Look for the boxes with the yellow school bus logo. Cash donations also are accepted online.
Red Canoe Credit Union runs a campaign it calls "Fill the Canoe" in Federal Way, Covington and Puyallup, with donation sites at branches and in other community locations. It matches gifts of school supplies pound-for-pound.
Communities in Schools of Renton requests both backpacks and supplies for its Backpack Drive, which runs through Aug. 15. Details and donation sites can be found here, and items also can be purchased online. It also hosts a benefit Back-to-School golf tournament on Aug. 25 at Newcastle Golf Course.
Office Depot and Fred Meyer locations often have bins for donating supplies, which they give to neighborhood schools.
Related: Pearl Jam, Gates Foundation team up to help homeless students and families.