Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, an annual YMCA backpack drive went virtual to provide thousands of school backpacks filled with supplies to students in need in northern Brazoria County.

Approximately 615 Pearland ISD students and over 3,000 Alvin ISD students received backpacks to start the new school year through the drive.

This is the 16th consecutive year for Operation Backpack, a fundraising drive organized by the Vic Coppinger Family YMCA in Pearland that provides backpacks and school supplies for students in need.

“Operation Backpack is the community coming together to ensure that our kids get to school with the supplies they need,” said Suzanne Murray, district director for the Y throughout the Pearland and Alvin region. “It’s wonderful to see that happen.”

The YMCA received more than 3,000 requests for backpacks for 2020, and there was a noted increase in Pearland ISD, Murray said.

The backpacks come pre-filled with school supplies.

“Even though some kids are having school at their home, they still need paper to write on, pencils and markers to use,” Murray said.

Normally, the Y, in collaboration with partners and sponsors, would designate drop-off point locations. But this year, the project had to go virtual and through July and August, the Y collected money from the community via a “no touch or low touch” online donation drive.

“Each year, we are fortunate to receive supplies through YMCA Operation Backpack to provide our students with tools they need for success,” Pearland ISD spokesperson Kim Hocott said. “Without this partnership and these donations each year, students would have a difficult time starting the school year on the right foot.”

Operation Backpack is a collaborative effort between sponsors like the YMCA Greater Houston, H-E-B, Memorial Hermann, the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, churches and others.

The Pearland and Alvin communities responded despite the ongoing pandemic, said Murray.

“Without this partnership and these donations each year, students would have a difficult time starting the school year on the right foot,” said Hocott.

yorozco@hcnonline.com