By Jessica Mathews /

An annual campaign and event aims to help make school in the fall easier for families in need – although it will operate a bit differently due to COVID-19.

Donations are being sought for the 19th annual Backpacks for Kids project being hosted the Livingston Educational Service Agency. The event helps give students a good start to the year as backpacks and supplies are a big expense for families. Backpacks and school supplies appropriate for all age levels between pre-school and high school are being collected and will be distributed during a drive-thru event in August but it will look a little bit different this year due to COVID-19.

Great Start Coordinator Robin Schutz says they’ve opted for a drive-thru operation this year and different local school districts will have designated time frames to come pick up backpacks filled with supplies and information about local resources. Schutz tells WHMI they decided they wanted to hold the event as they knew there would still be a need for students to have supplies, no matter what school looks like come fall. She says instead of going in the building to select backpacks and supplies, families will come to the LESA parking lot and backpacks will be filled and ready to go in school buses that volunteers will distribute to cars. Schutz says they encourage families to bring children so the appropriate selections can be made.

The distribution date this year is set for August 6th. More information about the event and volunteer opportunities will be released at a later date but for now, the community is encouraged to start collecting backpacks and supplies to donate. Items and monetary donations can be dropped off long at the LESA building located at 1425 West Grand River Avenue in Howell starting July 6th but other sites are currently operational. A complete list of donation sites and needed supplies is available on the LESA website. A link is provided.