Jessica OrbonAug 3, 2017, 1:49 pmAug 3, 2017, 1:53 pm

It’s the last days of donations for Operation Backpack in Montclair

Both YMCAs on Glenwood Avenue and Park Avenue in town will be open until 10 p.m.

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Summer vacation will be over soon — that means parents and students are already thinking about what they need for the first day of school. And one organization is doing its part to make sure every student shows up prepared.

Operation Backpack — an organization that allows people in the community to fill a backpack to the brim with everything a student needs when it comes to school supplies and donate it.

But these donations aren't going to just any child. It’s children that live in homeless and domestic violence shelters that will be wearing them proudly on the first day of school.

The organization that started in 2004 has a goal this year of 20,000 backpacks to be filled, sorted and given to children of all ages from New York City and Northern New Jersey.

In Montclair, there are two donation sites — at YMCAs just blocks apart. Employees at the Y say the Operation Backpack bins are often empty because the donations that are pouring in are being collected by the organization three times a week.

The person responsible for collecting the donations in Montclair is Kimya Nilsen, a volunteer who has been working with Operation Backpack for three years.

The goal for these two locations is 100 backpacks. Last year, Nilsen collected 70 and as this year, so far she has only collected 40.

Nilsen says she has seen how great the need is and how much of a difference it makes in a child's life and education.

"Giving the child the boost to go to school on the first day with the confidence that they have everything they need to participate in the school day that their peers have,” says Nilsen. “They don't have to cower and be nervous about what they have or don't have, they know they're prepared. They know they have everything — they have a brand new stylish backpack."

Nilsen says her motivation is the children who are receiving the donations. But donating to Operation Backpack can also be a lesson in giving.

Nilsen says, "For those of us who are participating in the drive, it's a great opportunity to bring our kids in to what it means to give. We're already shopping for our kids — so we're saying, now you know what you're getting. Give to somebody else."

The last day to donate a backpack filled with supplies for a student in any grade from pre-K to high school is Friday. Both the YMCAs on Glenwood Avenue and Park Avenue in Montclair will be open until 10 p.m.

Donations can also be made online at crowdrise.com/operationbackpacknyc.

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