By Lindsay Ward

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s a first for the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Today they kicked off their “Week of Caring.”

At Camp Guyasuta Friday morning, several boxes were dropped off.

“Usually it’s a day of caring, but it has extended to a week based on the great need that our region is facing right now,” said Kristen Hemmings, United Way volunteer.

About a dozen volunteers sifted through boxes and organized the items inside.

“This marks the first of about 70 projects that we’ll be doing across our five county region,” said a United Way worker.

Pencils, rulers, erasers, water bottles and backpacks are among the items being given out.

They call these items their, “Be There Swag.”

“It’s all about school attendance and incentivizing kids to show up,” said Hemmings.

“We want to continue for kids to participate in school online and just be there.

Just be present, because we recognize chronic absenteeism is an issue,” said Cheyenne Tyler, Manager of School Initiatives.

The United Way partnered with 25 schools for the project.

Majority of those are in Allegheny County.

“It means a lot to the kids and to the teachers as well just to encourage everyone and what they’re doing is so important,” said Hemmings.

United Way’s “Week of Caring” will continue through Oct. 10th.