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YMCA York County’s Southern Community Services will be giving away backpacks and school supplies to families in need next week.

"I think the first day of school’s always the hardest for kids," said Susan Eckhart, YMCA director of family services.

The students walk in and see their friends with a new backpack when their own might be from two or three years ago, she said, but something fresh can help them have a great first day.

"That way they don’t feel so different from the other kids," Eckhart said.

The United Way-funded program serves low- and moderate-income residents in Southern York County, South Eastern, Dallastown Area and Red Lion Area school districts, and the giveaway is part of its back-to-school effort.

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From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, Aug. 5-9, supplies such as notebooks, crayons, markers, binders, scissors, glue, index cards and folders will be available at the Southern Branch YMCA, 100 Constitution Ave., in Shrewsbury.

Each student will get a filled backpack, with some extra items such as calculators or staplers for older students, if available, Eckhart said.

"Anything we can think of is in those book bags!" she said.

Last year, about 50 students came for supplies — upped to 60 who have signed up so far this year — and the program also takes walk-ins, she said.

"School is important, and if students are able to get the necessary supplies and materials they need then that helps lay a great foundation for the upcoming school year,” she stated in a news release.

Parents and guardians of students in grades K-12 who attend school in the participating districts can call 717-235-0446, ext. 403 or 408, to see if they qualify for the program, the release states. Eligible families must provide proof of income.

Southern Community Services accepts students on "a case-by-case basis," Eckhart said, adding that no one has been turned away yet. 

The program is also accepting donations through Friday, Aug. 2. They can be dropped off or mailed to the branch office at P.O. Box 263, Shrewsbury, PA 17361.

For more information, visit yorkcoymca.org/scs/ or on Facebook at YMCASouthernCommunityServices.

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