WALTHAM, MASS. (WHDH) - Hundreds of backpacks and more were handed out to families in need as volunteers with the Salvation Army held a back-to-school distribution event in Waltham this week.

The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division stuffed some 700 backpacks with classroom supplies ahead of the upcoming school year and gave them away on Monday.

Aiming to help families in Waltham, Watertown, and Newton, organizers said it received a number of inquiries ahead of this year’s distribution, noting that a general need for assistance has been on the rise.

“We have had phone calls after phone calls asking ‘will you have a backpack event? We need supplies for our children,'” said Lieutenant Nicole Fullop. “We know that the need has grown from last year – last year, we served 625. Prior to opening up at 10 o’clock, we had a line all the way down to the left of our building. Parents, children of all ages, here, ready and waiting.”

“We are here to be that helping hand, to help them feel that they have accomplished and got everything that they need for their families,” she said on Monday.

Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy said the annual event takes a year to prepare for but for her and organizers, the distribution effort is well worth it.

“We’re very happy to be here because when kids start school on the right foot, they feel comfortable that they have their supplies – that’s a big step for them,” McCarthy said.

More information on the Salvation Army Waltham Corps and Massachusetts Division can be found here.

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