Richmond County comes together to serve school supplies

By: By Matt Harrelson -
Daily Journal file photo The “Stuff the Bus” campaign will be one of many back to school events this year to help provide backpacks and school supplies to underprivileged students.

ROCKINGHAM — With the first day of school just over a month away on Aug. 29, organizations, businesses and towns are gearing up for it by giving away school supplies.

The “Stuff the Bus” campaign is entering its 8th year and will partner with the United Way of Richmond County, WSOC-TV, Walmart and Dannell Ellerbe, a Richmond Senior High School graduate and outside linebacker with the New Orleans Saints.

“We actually started it. We work with the school system and Walmart,” said Michelle Parrish, director of United Way of Richmond County. “Stuff the Bus was something United Way across the country was doing and doing food drives and anything we could do to fill up vehicles. We ended up doing Stuff the Bus for school supplies.”

Parrish said the purpose is to help underprivileged kids that wouldn’t have a great start to their school year because of the lack of school supplies or clothes.

“We wanna make sure that students who are in need will have the proper things to start their school year out on the same playing field,” she said.

After the supplies are put into the bus in the Walmart parking lot, social workers and counselors from Richmond County Schools will distribute them at the schools “to make sure the kids who are truly in need are the ones that get it,” said Parrish.

Additionally, 500 book bags packed with paper and pencils will be given away to students on a first-come, first-served basis. That’s where Dannell and his wife Shervella come into play.

Now in their second year helping, Shervella Ellerbe said they got involved after Parrish invited them last year. She explained the mission each year is to collect items, and that was something they wanted to participate in.

“We thought this would be the most efficient way,” she said. “We’ll be giving out backpacks filled with crayons, tablets, folders, pencils, pens erasers, pencil sharpeners and glue sticks.”

Any sponsors who choose to participate will have their organization’s name featured on one of the bus windows. In addition to the bus being seen in Walmart’s parking lot, it will be on display outside Raider Stadium for Richmond Senior’s first home football game on Aug. 26.

“Stuff the Bus” will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19 in the Walmart parking lot. For more information, contact Richmond County Schools Public Information Officer Ashley Michelle Thublin at 478-390-1614 or by email at or Parrish at 910-997-2173 or


Freedom Fitness in the Richmond Plaza will have its 4th annual school backpack and school supplies drive, and owner Terri Robinson said she’s always looking to incorporate events to make her business more than just a gym.

“A lot of times kids can’t meet the needs of what the schools require. I’d heard of a lot of people doing it. It just started as an idea to help others out,” she said. “It just worked out so great that we wanted to continue doing it. After the first year we opened it up to our members where they can bring in school supplies.”

Manager Crystal Fugle said new members who bring in a new back pack will have their enrollment fee waved. For current members, bringing in school supplies will get them $5 off their next month’s payment.

The gym’s drive began on July 1 and will run until Wednesday, Aug. 31, two days after school will begin.

“Even though school will have already started, kids will still have needs,” said Robinson. “Schools had no problem with us continuing. We enjoy doing that.”


Rockingham Verizon, in conjunction with its second largest retailer A Wireless and Culture of Good, will have a backpack giveaway from noon to 3 pm. on Saturday, July 30. The event is part of a national backpack giveaway campaign to donate 100,000 backpacks full of school supplies to children across the nation.

The Rockingham store is one of more than 760 participating and invited local families and their children to visit to pick up a backpack filled with various school supplies such as pencils, paper, pencil boxes, folders and glue. One backpack per child present will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis while the supplies last, according to store manager Kyle Measmer.

There will be 125 backpacks available for students with each one containing $97. 74 worth of supplies to help alleviate the cost the average person spends each school year.


The Town of Hoffman will host its annual back to school day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Hoffman Recreation Complex, 106 Thompson Road. For more information on this event, contact town hall at 910-281-3606 during regular business hours.

Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.

Daily Journal file photo The “Stuff the Bus” campaign will be one of many back to school events this year to help provide backpacks and school supplies to underprivileged students. Journal file photo The “Stuff the Bus” campaign will be one of many back to school events this year to help provide backpacks and school supplies to underprivileged students.

By Matt Harrelson