PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Even kids who don’t have a home need supplies for school.

“Throughout the summer, different community members and organizations hold school supply drives for us,” said Carrie Pavlik with Homeless Children’s Education Fund. “Individuals donate school supplies. We get those gathered up and start sorting and counting them.”

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More than 2,200 backpacks were stuffed with school supplies.

“Most people do not realize how big this problem, and it continues to grow,” said Bill Wolfe, also with the Homeless Children’s Education Fund. “It’s not something that is going away.”

They were assembled by volunteers over the past several weeks.

The helpers came from the fund, UPMC Health Plan and Citizens Bank.

“We are very fortunate in this community to have a lot of people who give, our foundation and philanthropic community is very good and individuals and businesses as well,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

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There are an estimated 2,900 homeless students in Allegheny County – and 1.3 million nationally.

“It’s kind of a silent problem that we have throughout our region but we need to reach out and identify these vulnerable children and help them wherever we can,” said Scott Lammie with UPMC Health Plan.

“We still though have a lot of work to do to raise the awareness,” said State Sen. Wayne Fontana. “I have tried to do it the state level. We have a study going on about homeless children in the whole state. People don’t realize it.”

Programs like this one are designed to prevent educational setbacks and improve school performance.

“How can a kid go to school without pencils and paper and the things that they need?” said Mark Lattiner with Citizens Bank. “They are so disadvantaged compared to kids that come from normal households.”

Fittingly, the backpacks were delivered via school bus across Allegheny County.

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