COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The start of the new school year is right around the corner, so a local organization is helping students get ready while cutting down on the cost of back-to-school shopping for families feeling the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether it’s in-person or online, students are going back to school, and parents are prepared to spend some serious money on supplies.

“Normally, I mean, you’re looking at maybe $200, $300?” said Leila Orellana. “Especially with three boys, and that’s not including shoes and clothes.”

“Probably, for the three kids, averaging the clothes, uniforms and stuff, maybe like a grand,” said Alpha Diallo, father of three. “Wow, yeah, that’s a lot of money. It is a lot of money, yeah.”

But during a global pandemic, some families have even less money to spend.

“As you know, with coronavirus, things are really tough right now,” Diallo said.

So God’s Hygiene Help Center is stepping in to make things a little easier, handing out 275 backpacks filled with supplies to families in North Linden Saturday.

“I got notebooks, a book, and some folders, and a bar of soap and crayons and pencils, and a toothbrush,” said student Abraham Orellana.

Because, organizers of the event said, school matters.

“If we keep our kids in school, we can have productive citizens,” said Tammy Jewell from God’s Hygiene. “Giving back dignity and pride will make the students want to do better. If you’re proud, then you’ll want to be there.”

And those students, and their families, are grateful.

“Job’s really slow right now, so coming here and having some pens, some papers, or whatever we need’s definitely going to take some dollars off the total amount,” Diallo said.

“I mean, anything, especially right now during the pandemic, it helps,” Leila Orellana said. “I mean, whatever I don’t have to buy, I mean, even better. More money towards bills.”

“We are very honored and blessed to be able to help and serve people,” said Terry Starr with God’s Hygiene. “These are our neighbors and they’re our neighbors in need.”

Organizers said they plan to hold another free giveaway in South Linden next week, set to hand out 150 backpacks with supplies.

For details on next week’s event, visit God’s Hygiene Help Center’s website.