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A local charity is collecting backpacks for low-income children in the Sacramento region.

Volunteers of America's Greater Sacramento & Northern Nevada affiliate is holding the "Operation Backpack" community drive through July 24 and asking residents to donate new backpacks filled with school supplies, the organization's Web site states.

Last year, the organization gathered 1,300 filled backpacks for area children and officials say the need is even greater this year.

According to the Sacramento County Office of Education, homelessness among Sacramento school children jumped 19 percent this past school year, from 5,120 in 2007-2008 to 6,111 during the 2008-2009 year, Bee staff writer Julie Johnson reported last week.

Volunteers of America has set up more than 100 drop-off locations, including five Macy's stores and dozens of Starbucks locations in the area.

The Web site has three grade-specific school supply lists ready for people to download, along with information on holding a backpack drive at your work, church or service club.

For more information, go to the organization's Web site.

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