The backpack campaign goes on. With a new school year about to begin, Montgomery County is making a final push in its quest to fund 17,000 backpacks for students at high-poverty county schools.

So far, school system leaders have raised $153,000 in community, PTA, business and individual donations, enough for more than 15,000 of the $10-apiece backpacks.

The goal is $170,000, leaving a gap of $17,000 as of Monday.

The backpacks, stocked with paper, notebooks and other supplies, will be distributed at 43 Montgomery schools starting this week, officials said. The effort steers backpacks to places with the greatest need, said Montgomery schools spokesman Dana Tofig.

The campaign comes amid a continuing increase in the number of Montgomery students from families that struggle financially. Last school year, nearly 52,000 Montgomery students received free and reduced-price school meals, an indicator of poverty.

The school system provided nearly 15,000 backpacks last year to students at 41 schools. The giveaway started in 2009, with about 3,000 backpacks donated, and has made a difference for many students, Tofig said. “Families are just very grateful,” he said.

School officials say the Web site for information about making donations is The effort is being coordinated by the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships, at 301-279-3100.