JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - For one day, big yellow school buses will roll out—not to pick up children—but to get school supplies the students will use. It's all part of a half-day event happening Saturday, August 5 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at nine Walmart locations throughout Region 8. The supplies go directly to students in the area.
Patricia Bowers, a Jonesboro Public Schools substitute teacher and mother of three sons, recognizes the needs families face when trying to get their children ready to go back-to-school.
"It does get expensive," Bowers said. "Each year as time goes, they need more and more things."
Scissors, glue, pencils, paper, erasers, crayons, pens, binders, folders, backpacks and tissues are all supplies needed for younger children as they go back-to-school. Parents sometimes feel as if the list is never-ending.
"Education is very important," Bowers said. "Being a single parent is very hard because you have your bills and you have to get school supplies and clothes. You still have to have food."
Bowers understand the struggle and tough decisions many parents face trying to outfit children for back-to-school.
"Stuff the Bus helps people a lot—especially with things you can't afford because you have other things you have to get besides school supplies," Bowers said.
The one-day school supply drive has grown over the years, but, needs in the community have, too.
"It helps for us to provide for our students," Gabriel Rhynes, Jonesboro Math and Science Magnet school counselor said. "It gives those students who do not have the supplies at the beginning of the school year a chance to be at the same level."
"It does make a difference for a child that needs help," Bowers said.
It also puts the focus back on learning.
"The more you learn, the more you grow," Gariyuana Fuller said. Fuller, a student going into the fourth grade, wants to be a teacher someday.
"In school, you get to learn more," Fuller said.
Area schools recognize the value of Stuff the Bus. Many of them work the event year after year, counting and loading the supplies onto buses.
"It (the supplies ) are dispersed out to each building and we have a closet and we keep the supplies in a closet," Rhynes said. "We give it to students who need them and then we have it on hand for any students who come into the school district."
So what is gathered in one day, impacts area students all year long. It's a welcome sight for parents who struggle to not come up short.
"I try so hard to make everything the best for them and I can't because I don't have," Bowers said.
Thanks to Stuff the Bus, fewer parents have to find themselves in this position. Stuff the Bus is sponsored by United Way of Northeast Arkansas, CRDC, The Jonesboro Radio Group and KAIT.
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