We were excited to learn last week about the collaboration among a handful of Kearney service clubs and the United Way of the Kearney Area to work together and improve the distribution of school supplies and winter coats among Kearney’s needy children.

According to Nikki Erickson, executive director of United Way, her organization and Dobytown Kiwanis are partnering on Stuff the Bus, the event that allows donors to help provide the school supplies that will help children prepare for their return to school.

Donations of school supplies for children grades pre-kindergarten through 12 will be accepted during a July 17-19 Stuff the Bus event at Walmart and anytime before July 30 at the United Way office. Additional collection boxes are at First National Bank and at Dollar General’s west location in Kearney.

The donated supplies will be placed into 1,300 backpacks for United Way’s Back-2-School backpack program for children who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Partnering with United Way are Goodfellows, Kearney Elks and Noon Kiwanis, which has led the backpack program since 1993. This year’s goal to hand out 1,300 backpacks compares to last year’s distribution of 1,100 backpacks.

Additional backpacks might be necessary as families encounter tight budgets because of coronavirus-related losses of income.

While the backpack program unfolds, families will have the opportunity to learn about the Goodfellows’ winter coat giveaway. It’s in October and its goal is ensuring children are adequately dressed for the winter.

Erickson said these organizations invite churches, other service organizations and community members to help enhance the coat giveaway by raising funds for coats. Anyone wishing to sponsor a coat for a child can submit donations of $20 per coat to United Way.

Registration for the backpacks and coats already is underway and runs through July 19. Visit uwka.org/back-2-school-2020 or call United Way at 308-237-6840 to complete registration for the coat giveaway.

Volunteers will stuff backpacks 6-8 p.m. Aug. 3 in the Horizon Middle School gymnasium with Dobytown Kiwanis members and United Way. Backpacks will be ready for pickup at Horizon Middle School. Pickup will be 5-7 p.m. Aug. 4 and 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 5. Goodfellows will distribute winter coats later.

People can call United Way at 308-237-6840 to volunteer to stuff backpacks on Aug. 3 or hand out backpacks on Aug. 4-5.

Efforts of the groups are to be commended because they’ll result in new efficiencies and visibility, thus broadening the pool of donors so more kids can be helped. No child should arrive at school without supplies or suffer through bitter weather without proper clothing.

These programs aim to eliminate those problems and deserve the public’s support.