LONG BRANCH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment and food insecurity soared.

Now, charity organizations are calling for help with school supplies for those in need.

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As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, backpacks, notepads, crayons and more – the next time you’re in a store, think about picking up these items to donate.

“There’s a need, and they aren’t that expensive. But it does hit a family budget,” said Lisa Wilson, executive director of Coastal Communities Family Success Center.

Wilson says it’s not just lower income families.

“A lot of our parents, moms and dads, are still not back to work. It’s loss of income, behind in rent, you don’t have enough money for food,” Wilson said.

Gift cards to grocery stores are very much needed so that children don’t go to school hungry.

“Also the pens, hand sanitizer tissues, all of that. Put in activity bags, get school supplies, and all the extra to stay safe and, oh, also face masks,” Wilson said.

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“COVID has really exasperated a lot of the needs for families. So just check in on your loved ones, friends, families,” said Cinaida Anthony of the Family Based Services Association of New Jersey.

“I’m sure some people are hesitant to come forward and ask. What do you say to them?” Baker asked.

“Any family can contact us for help and resources, whether that be needs for food insecurity, housing, or have concerns for children’s mental and behavioral health,” Anthony said.

And those services are free.

There are 57 Family Success Centers throughout New Jersey for people to turn to, or give to.

To find one near you, CLICK HERE.

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Meg Baker contributed to this report. 

CBSNewYork Team