By CBS13 Staff

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s been more than a year since many kids have been in a classroom, and as they get ready to return, they need new school supplies. Hundreds of students Thursday took part in a back-to-school backpack giveaway.

Ana Bankert of Volunteers of America said the organization has been running Operation Backpack for about 16 years. They were hoping to give away around 4,000 backpacks this year.

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“It helps so much,” said parent Maria Gomez.

Benkert said the need has never been greater.

“There are so many families that have lost their jobs, so many families that really just need this additional little help, and we’re so excited that kids get to go back to school,” she said.

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Keke Hendricks was another parent involved in the giveaway.

“It helped me support them to get some backpacks because I wasn’t able to get them one this year,” Hendricks said.

According to Benkert, the giveaway is about more than just a backpack, it’s about hope and getting children excited about the new school year.

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“[The pandemic] was rough, but now that we’re going back to classes, it’s going to be much easier,” one student said.