Stuff the Bus helps struggling families

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 6:47 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - With school approaching for many kids in Northeast Arkansas, it’s more important than ever to help those in need.

Nicole reads to her daughter, Noemia. Their full names are not being used for privacy.

The mother and daughter have been through much these last few years.

“Jennifer always wanted to do what Nate was doing,” Nicole reads from a book called ‘Sharing’.

Life has not been like a storybook for the pair.

“Definitely been a rough year,” Nicole said. “I had a brain tumor.”

Eleven surgeries later.

“It turned out to be the size of a lemon,” she said.

Nicole has had to learn to walk again.

“You ready to wake up early again?” Nicole asked Noemia.

“Uhmm. Kind of,” Noemia said hesitantly.

Nicole’s medical bills are mounting, just as Noemia is preparing to walk the halls as a second grader at International Studies Magnet School.

“My favorite thing to do was playing on the playground,” Noemia explained. “Play with my friends.”

Thanks to Stuff the Bus, there are school supplies waiting for Noemia in counselor Paula Brown’s office.

“If we can relieve their burden, their financial burden, by supplying school supplies, we are more than glad to do that,” Brown said.

Any student who needs supplies can come to her office all year long.

“I love to see them pick out what they want. We have lots of colors and you want them to be happy with their backpack,” Brown said.

For Nicole, that’s huge.

“It’s a big weight lifted off my shoulders,” she explained.

For Nicole, she is not alone.

“If you have three or four kids and buying supplies for all of them, so that’s why we push, ‘Hey, if you could help out in Stuff the Bus and help just one kid, it makes a world of a difference,” Shalon Tate said. “It does.”

If you would like to help a student like Noemia, it’s easy to do.

Just pick up an extra box of crayons, scissors, or highlighters, and bring them to any of the Walmart locations in Northeast Arkansas on Saturday, Aug. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Make sure to look for the yellow school bus.

If shopping is not easy for you, there are donations given through canisters you can put money into, which goes right back into the store to buy more school supplies.

“We need watercolors, a pair of scissors,” Amanda Johnson talks with her daughter, Aurora, as they shop inside the Highland Drive Walmart in Jonesboro.

As prices continue to get higher, trying to stretch the family budget is challenging.

“I’ve got four kids,” Johnson said. “Super expensive!”

Still, she tries to find bargains so she can purchase Items on teachers’ wish lists.

“It’s important,” Johnson said. “They are teaching our babies.”

“We never want a child to come into the classroom and not have the supplies. When they come in on that first day, it makes a world of difference if they have supplies sitting on their desk,” Tate said.

Stuff the Bus helps with that, covering 20 schools in eight counties.

“Mrs. Brown, the school has been wonderful,” Nicole said. “I couldn’t ask for a better community.”

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