Okay, it's still only part way into summer and most of us don't want to be thinking about the approach of September, but the fact remains, the new school year is less than two months away and, once again, Operation Homefront is on the front lines, working to ensure that the children of military personnel, either serving their country now or having done so in the past, have everything they need to succeed academically.

As in years past, Operation Homefront has teamed with Dollar Tree and Deal$ stores to collect school supply donations for all age groups. It's as easy as ABC. The Back-to-School Brigade program runs from July 11th through Aug. 2nd. Simply buy school supplies and put them into the drop box near the checkout counters.

Items needed include notebooks, notebook paper, pens, pencils, colored pencils, crayons, markers, calculators, glue, glue sticks and rulers.

People are obviously catching on to this. According to a press release, 19,000 back-to-school backpacks were distributed in 2009, an increase of 132% over the previous year. This resulted in more than $1.2 million in savings on education supplies for military families in need. Wow. That's a lot of pens and pencils.

The goal this year is to collect enough school supplies to fill 21,000 backpacks and why not? It doesn't cost a lot to be a good neighbor. In fact, the total cost of just those items previously listed would only be $11 at Dollar Tree, but feel free to donate whatever you can afford, be it more or less. Dollar Tree and Deal$ have 3,800 stores between them. So, if everyone does what they can, those donation boxes will fill up fast.

To find out more about the fine work of Operation Homefront, how to volunteer or to find a chapter near you, visit their website. If you'd like to donate but don't have the time to shop, you can sponsor a child's backpack for $35 by going to their donations page. Be sure to specify that it's for the Back-to-School Brigade program in the comments box.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes tips and ideas for home decorating using only items from the dollar store.

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