Operation Backpack in Beckley has begun its annual packing process. Soon, hundreds of backpacks will be packed full of school supplies to be delivered to children in need in Raleigh and surrounding counties.

To help with funding for Operation Backpack, a non-profit organization, has begun to take donations to help alleviate the cost of their project. Donation boxes were set up beginning July 14 at sponsoring businesses.

This will be the 27th year Operation Backpack will be in effect, and the project has only grown since its first year, where it supplied 10 backpacks. Last year, the non-profit supplied over 800 backpacks to schools in four different counties.

The founder and operator of the operation, Cindy Parker, has kept up the tradition for the full 27 years, and is hopeful that it will continue to grow.

“We need the community to fill those collection boxes up so we can start packing and provide those students who fall through the cracks the right supplies and everything,” stated Parker.

Donation boxes have been set up at Beckley Newspaper, City Slicker, Valley college, Body Works, Premier Pharmacy Raleigh County Veterans Museum, and Mabscott United Methodist Church.

The supplies as well as the backpacks will be given to students of all ages, and will be filled appropriately for their age groups be it crayons, calculators, books, pens, pencils, etc.

“We do need the community’s help,” Parker said. "I know that the pandemic and all of the economic changes that have happened, someone that may have supported us before maybe need our support now. It changes, but anything helps.”

Operation Backpack is not only looking for money donations, but also for businesses that may want to have a collection box placed at their location. Additionally, they accept any donations of school supplies such as pens, pencils, erasers, backpacks etc.

Donations will be accepted until a week after school starts at all of the businesses that have collection boxes. People can also donate by calling Mabscott United Methodist Church at (304) 252-4207.

“This is a huge project in our communities,” Parker said. "We need the community's support with all sorts of donations of school supplies and backpacks. Help us fill those boxes or send in a monetary donation.

"The project is a community effort to help those students in need that fall through the cracks,” Parker said. "There is a real need in our communities and together we make a difference in a child's life. If your business or organization would like to participate, please contact.”

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