As kids go back to school, they need backpacks, binders, paper, markers, pencils, and pens – a pricy proposition for many parents.UC Merced has partnered with Rock Da Block, a program run through a local nonprofit, to help collect and provide these school supplies to those in need.The timing is on point, according to Merced County Superintendent of Schools Lee Anderson, who expects more students than ever to lack supplies needed for success."In these challenging economic times, many of our local families do not have the means to purchase school supplies after they have taken care of their basic living expenses," said UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang. "We are excited to join Rock Da Block and the greater community to provide students with the materials they need to be successful in the classroom and beyond."UC Merced has established collection centers across Merced County to gather new backpacks, pencils, ballpoint pens, crayons, lined paper, glue sticks, construction paper, erasers, colored pencils and markers, safety scissors, pencil cases, spiral bound notebooks, pocket folders, rulers and protractors, white school glue, three-ring binders, scientific calculators, graph paper, staplers, pencil sharpeners (small), highlighters and hand sanitizer. The donation campaign runs through Aug. 31.Once donations are sorted, UC Merced students and staff will distribute the backpacks stuffed with school supplies to schools throughout Merced County.Donations can be dropped off during normal business hours at the Merced County Building, Merced BBVA Compass Bank, Merced Christian Life Center, Merced Civic Center, Merced Police Department, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union branches, Merced Rabobank branches, or at UC Merced’s Mondo Building. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and Aug. 21, donations will also be collected in the Merced AAA Insurance parking lot, the Kohl’s and Target parking lots at the Merced Mall, the Target parking lot in Los Banos, and the Kmart parking lot in Atwater.For more information or to make a donation, call 224-1794 or 777-7272.