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The new school year is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to buy new backpacks, pencils, notebooks and other school supplies.

The annual D.C. Human Services “Fill a Backpack Fuel a Dream” campaign is collecting donations for the approximately 250 homeless youth in grades Pre-K through 12 that live at D.C. General family shelter. The drive will also support homeless families sheltered at other locations.

A 2015 National Retail Federation survey found that the average family with kids in kindergarten through 12th grade planned to spend $630.36 on back-to-school needs, including electronics, traditional supplies, and apparel. The survey also reported a 42 percent increase in average back-to-school spending in the past ten years.

“Backpacks are important for children who experience homelessness because kids tend to ‘wear’ their socio-economic status,” said Jamila Larson, executive director of the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project. “Children coming to school without the proper uniforms or school gear might as well have a sign across their forehead that says ‘I’m poor.’ A new, quality backpack filled with all the required school supplies gives children confidence!”

Contributions can be dropped off at D.C. General (1900 Massachusetts Ave. SE) or any Department of Human Services service center location. The drive ends Wednesday, August 17.

For any questions or more information about the campaign, call (202) 299-5546.