The United Way of Richmond County will host a Stuff the Bus school supply drive at Wal-Mart during tax free weekend, Aug. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Aug. 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. School supplies will be collected for at-risk children, and the entire community is encouraged to participate. Shoppers taking advantage of tax free school supplies for their children are encouraged to purchase extra supplies and donate them to Stuff the Bus on their way out of Wal-Mart. Special coupons will be available to the first few shoppers who make a donation.
“United Way of Richmond County believes that the inability to afford school supplies should not be an obstacle to a child’s success,” said Michelle Parrish, executive director of United Way of Richmond County. “We want to ensure that every child has the ability to return to the classroom with all the supplies that are needed for them to be successful.”
This is the United Way’s second Stuff the Bus event.
“Last year each seat was filled with school supplies when the bus drove away at five,” said Parrish.
“The support for last year’s Stuff the Bus drive was tremendous,” said Ashley Simmons, public information officer for Richmond County Schools. “Everyone is aware of the struggles many of our families have endured this past year, so we expect an even more overwhelming response to the needs of our children.”
All supplies collected will stay within the community. Richmond County school counselors and teachers will distribute the supplies at the beginning of the school year to the students they identify as having the greatest need.
United Way makes this drive possible by selling sponsorships to businesses that can display their advertisements on the bus windows. The front window has already been sold for $200. Displaying advertisements on whole windows costs $100, and partial windows cost $60. Businesses can help by donating buckets filled with supplies.
Last year, volunteer help was provided by Cub Scout Packs 49, 64 and 527 along with Boy Scout Troops 49 and 64. This year, more Scouts are expected to serve. Cub Scout Trooper Leader Tonya Freeman said the event is a great way for her scouts to give back to the community.
“As a Cub Scout leader, we are to teach these boys the 12 core values of scouting, and two of these values are citizenship and compassion. This was one way for the boys to learn about these values and have fun at the same time. We are looking forward to working with the United Way again in this year’s effort to Stuff the Bus,” said Freeman.
Backpack Pals for Richmond County partners with United Way to help with events that assist children in need. They make sure children in the county have the meals they most need by providing backpacks full of food to primary and elementary school children. Many children depend on school breakfast and lunch, and may not get enough to eat over the weekends. Each backpack is filled with pop-top cans of healthy and child-friendly food. Backpack Pals sends home 439 backpacks a week when school is in session.
During the summer vacation, Hamlet’s Church of God of Prophecy opens its doors to 80 to 100 children by hosting a summer camp, Monday through Friday. They make sure the children get plenty of food by serving them breakfast and lunch, and give them a safe place to play during the day. Their facilities allow the children to play football, soccer, basketball, or play with toys indoors. Once a week, guests come to the camp and bring enrichment to the children.
“Recently the 4H came out and brought rabbits with them to show the children,” says Pastor Steve Crews, volunteer executive director of Backpack Pals for Richmond County. He says his church has regular volunteers that help out with church programs. These volunteers will donate their time to help with the Stuff the Bus school supply drive.
If you are interested in donating, volunteering or serving as a sponsor, please contact Ashley Simmons, public information officer for Richmond County Schools at 910-582-5860 or Michelle Parrish, executive director of the United Way of Richmond County, at 910-997-2173.
Dawn Kurry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 997-3111 ext. 15.