People can “stuff the bus” with school supplies for Hall County students.
Grand Island Public Schools Families in Transition will accept donations from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Walmart North as part of its 20th annual Stuff the Bus event. It accepted donations last weekend and again on Friday this week.
Holly Boeselager, GIPS Families in Transition coordinator, said Stuff the Bus accepts donations of school supplies such as binders, crayons, colored pencils, erasers, loose-leaf paper, notebooks, pens and pencil pouches. She said the high-need items are loose-leaf paper, notebooks and pens.
Boeselager said Stuff the Bus is different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In past years, we were able to hand out flyers and talk to the people as they are going into the stores,” she said. “Also, losing out on Shopko (due to closure) has made things difficult, too. In the past, we did Shopko and Walmart North and had multiple donation areas. We are just rolling with it through COVID and doing the best we can.”
In addition to the drop-off event at Walmart North, Boeselager said donation boxes also are located at the following Railside businesses:
— The Chocolate Bar
— Kinkaider Brewing Co.
— Prairie Pride Brewing Co.
— Sin City Grill
— Wave Pizza Co.
These donation boxes will accept school supply donations through July 31.
Boeselager said people also can donate cash to Stuff the Bus by taking it to the event Saturday. Or they can drop off their donation at the Kneale Administration Building, 123 S. Webb Road.
The supplies donated to Stuff the Bus are being placed into backpacks at Trinity United Methodist Church to distribute to families in need at the Back to School Bash on July 31.
Boeselager said the event is typically in person where students can get physicals, vaccinations and dental and vision exams. Attendees also are able to collect various items and information from multiple agencies at the event.
However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, she said this year’s Back to School Bash will be a drive-thru event at Fonner Park where backpacks will be given to families on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Back to School Bash will be from 2 to 5 p.m. July 31 at Fonner Park.
“We are going to serve them (backpacks) until they are gone. Our goal is to give out 1,000 backpacks to any student in Hall County,” Boeselager said. “They (attendees) do not have to be a GIPS student. They just have to let us know that they have a student in Hall County and what school they attend. They just line up in the drive-thru in their vehicles and we put the backpacks in their trunk. They will also get a sack lunch from The Salvation Army.”
Boeselager said with the high price of backpacks at all grade levels, it is important for GIPS Families in Transition to be able to provide them to families in need through Stuff the Bus and the upcoming Back to School Bash. She added that with the COVID-19 pandemic causing more families to be unemployed, it makes both events more important.
“I would urge people to think of the kids and their own kids,” she said. “What would they do if they didn’t have backpacks or school supplies? How would you go and get it for them?
“Kids need these supplies in order to do well in school and not have it be a stigma just because they are low-income. If they do not have those supplies, they can be seen as less than someone else. We want to make sure kids have the same opportunities that other kids have. Something like school supplies may seem minor, but to kids, it means a lot that they have those items that they need.”
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