PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – They may not have a home to call their own, but thousands of students who are currently homeless will be going back to school with some brand new gear thanks to the generosity of others.

Three school buses filled with 4,500 backpacks full of school supplies were given to the kids Monday morning.

“There are crayons, coloring books for the younger kids, there are binders, pens, calculators,” Bill Wolfe from the Homeless Children’s Education Fund said.

The bags, which are age appropriate for kids in kindergarten all the way up to high school, are being delivered to children at about two dozen shelters across Allegheny County.

“The only way we are going to break the cycle of homelessness is to make sure that these children receive the education that they deserve to receive and that they graduate from high school and that they move on to a post-secondary education,” Wolfe said.

Last school year alone, in Allegheny County, there were over 1,700 children reported homeless.

The startling numbers are why Citizens Bank and the Homeless Children’s Education Fund teamed up for the “Gear for Grades” event.

This is the 10th year for the event. .

“Learning how many homeless children there are in Allegheny County and in our surrounding counties, it’s eye opening and heartbreaking,” Citizens Bank Vice President of Public Affairs Beth Crow said.

Citizens Bank purchases the backpacks and then, employees and customers donate all of the supplies.

Each year, the response seems to get bigger and bigger.

“Honestly, when you see the supplies and the tons and tons of supplies that come in and certainly so many things from the list and then sometimes things that weren’t on the list and that really touches your heart,” Crow said.

The Gear for Grades program has helped more than 250,000 kids over the years.


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