Monday, June 26, 2017 This Week's Paper

Stuff the Bus: Campaign prepares students for success

For many struggling students in Tacoma, Communities in Schools’ school supply drive “Stuff the Bus” provides the tools they need to start off the year on the right foot. Organizers hope to provide as many as 4,000 students with backpacks, notebooks, binders, pencils, pens, glue sticks and more in an effort to level the playing field and support students in need.

“Many educators say it is not uncommon to have students miss the first few days of school when they lack the basic school supplies to start the year,” said Communities in Schools Tacoma Executive Director Teresa Maxwell. “With local support from businesses, individuals and organizations, our goal is to make sure that when the school year begins, no child will be left behind.”

The organization is partnering with local businesses to collect donations from the public until Aug. 23, when volunteers pick up items and begin assembling backpacks.

Supplies are being accepted at local Columbia Bank branches, Korum automobile dealerships in Puyallup, Better Homes and Gardens Realty, City of Tacoma, Heritage Bank, Pacific Lutheran University, St. Joseph Medical Center, Coldwell Banker, The Hub, Chevy’s Mexican restaurant and more.

Columbia Bank is also accepting monetary donations for the Stuff the Bus campaign. Organizers have determined it takes about $25 to provide school supplies for one student for the entire year.

“In order for kids to achieve success in school, they need the requisite supplies,” said Communities in Schools representative Jordan Tatum. “This is a very easy but meaningful way to encourage kids and help them prepare to do well in school while leveling the playing field.”

Supplies that are especially needed include backpacks, glue, school boxes, notebook dividers, spiral notebooks, post-it notes, crayons, tissues, hand sanitizer and 3 x 5 note cards. Additional resources such as uniforms, shoes, coats and socks will also be collected.

Tacoma School Board member Scott Heinze has seen firsthand the difference these donations can make. “Our district is fortunate to have this partnership with Communities in Schools, which supports our efforts to educate our kids,” he said. “Last year, I had the pleasure to ride on the school bus with the Tacoma Rainiers to hand out several hundred new backpacks full of supplies to children who lived on the East Side. I witnessed the gratitude from the parents and the overwhelming joy on the kids’ faces. If you want to make a difference, donate to the Stuff the Bus campaign.”

Part of the overarching goal for Communities in Schools is to connect students with caring adults. “Many kids from disadvantaged backgrounds often lack a support system, so we work hard to get volunteers into the schools, not just to give time and money, but also take an interest in the students themselves,” Tatum said.