Many families across the state of West Virginia struggle to afford school supplies for their children. One local church is changing that; one backpack at a time.

Members of the Mabscott United Methodist Church in Raleigh County have been providing backpacks full of school supplies to students in need. They have been doing this for 23 years, and the project is called Operation Backpack.

Coordinator of Operation Backpack, Cindy Parker, said she just wants to see these children succeed in life. 

“We started the first year with ten backpacks and two schools, and now we’re in four counties helping those students and over a thousand backpacks for the past three years, so the need grows and grows,” Parker said.

Through a number of fundraisers, auctions, yard sales and donations, the group said this is a community effort. Their motive is to help children get through school.

“If we want to change the way people think of West Virginia of being uneducated, this is a reason why we want to have our people educated,” Parker explained.

Operation Backpack serves Raleigh, Fayette, Summers and Wyoming counties. Donna Walker is a parent involved in the church group. Walker said they know what it is like to worry about that next paycheck.

“When my child was growing up, she did have the money, but my husband had recently passed and I was back to school, too, and it was a little rough at times to come up with money for things,” Walker said.

They are still in need of more supplies. They have multiple donation boxes set up at businesses around Raleigh County.

These boxes can be found at City National Bank on Harper Road and Beckley Presbyterian Church.

Any business that would would like to have a drop off box can contact the Mabscott United Methodist Church at 304-252-4207, or reach out to them on their Operation Backpack Facebook page.