Back-to-school can be a stressful time for many families, especially those who are struggling to provide the basics for their children. In an effort to assist struggling households, three local YMCA groups have stepped up to help by providing children with school backpacks.

Beginning mid-September, the Santa Barbara Family YMCA, Montecito Family YMCA, and the Channel Islands YMCA Association united to start its 3rd Annual Backpack Give Back, and this year collected more than 300 backpacks, far exceeding the 80 some bags collected for at-risk youth and families in previous years.

“With rising costs due to inflation, especially with gas prices as high as they have ever been, struggling families just don’t get a break. And that is why our Y is here to help,” said Craig Prentice, executive director of the Santa Barbara Family YMCA.

The backpacks will be distributed to the YMCA Youth & Family Services, local charities, and community support organizations, helping many local children as they return to the classroom.