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School supply shopping is a ritual for many heading back to school.

James Crosby | 8/21/2013, 1:58 p.m.

Amid shopping sprees, kids and parents in the Cleveland area are looking beyond their own needs and considering the difference a pencil or pen would make in the lives of needy children overseas.

“In many third world countries, school supplies are a cherished commodity,” explains Ann Palmer, local Area Project Coordinator. “When we asked the Uganda National Leader for Operation Christmas Child what was the one thing most important to receive, he said without any hesitation, ‘Pencils!’”

For many poverty-stricken children, often a lack of basic supplies is what stands between them and attending school. By maximizing back-to-school sales, Cleveland families are stocking up on school supplies for Operation Christmas Child—a massive year-round project in which volunteers pack shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement for children in poverty across the globe.