The Stuff the Bus school supply drive kickoff event resulted in close to $12,000 worth of supplies donated to Communities Supporting Schools of Wayne County.

The nonprofit continues to collect supplies that will be given to Wayne County students following the July 27 event.

Stuff the Bus, which started 18 years ago, was held virtually during the past two years during the pandemic. Last year, CSS collected between $30,000 and $35,000 worth of supplies by the end of the year, said Selena Bennett, Communities Supporting Schools executive director.

She said this year’s amount the day of Stuff the Bus was lower than last year’s virtual event.

During Stuff the Bus, donations were dropped off to volunteers at 109 E. Ash St., where a yellow school bus was stationed for the day.

“We had a good turnout throughout the day,” said Wendy Hooks, CSS associate director and special projects coordinator, who is also a retired educator. “We had several people come through with carloads of supplies. Donors were very generous.

“People bringing supplies to Stuff the Bus would say they hope it helps, they want to support the children and they know school supplies have gotten expensive for families.”

Hooks said the day of Stuff the Bus, a little girl came with a parent and got to stuff a book bag with supplies for herself from the bus.

“She was so excited,” she said. “She got to pick out what she wanted. The one thing she wanted most was a pencil sharpener.”

After the event, volunteers met at Meadow Lane Elementary School to organize the donations and divvy them out to 34 Wayne County public schools.

“We brought all the supplies that we collected and also supplies that had been donated at Staples,” Hooks said. “We have four big boxes from Staples, and it is continuing to collect through the end of September.”

The supplies from Staples were already sorted into small boxes and included a Sharpie, glue and other items that children need for school.

Hooks said volunteers divided the donated supplies into a box for each school. Supplies were organized by age — elementary, middle and high school students.

In addition to the supplies, each box also contained two book bags, one for a boy and one for a girl.

“Most of the book bags we have today look like they’re for elementary children,” Hooks said. “So we will be putting a boy book bag and a girl book bag in each elementary box. The book bags were also donated.”

She said when the schools receive the supplies, they’re very appreciative.

“I remember when they used to come to me, I wanted to hug them and say thank you, thank you,” Hooks said. “But the real pleasure is the person who gets to give the supplies to the children.

“What I did was we kept the supplies in a location where the office knew where they were, so what we’d like for schools to do is have the supplies at a place that if a child comes in new or a child loses a book bag, the supplies are readily available.”

Hooks said it means a lot for a child to have what he or she needs, especially an elementary child. She said when a child goes in a classroom and everybody comes in with their supplies and they’re sorting them and that child doesn’t have any, he feels bad.

“It helps them with their self-esteem and having supplies, too,” she said. “We want parents to know they can contact us or their child’s school if their child needs some school supplies.”

Hooks said that the future starts with today’s children. And when children feel successful, they grow up to be successful.

“I think they need to see that they can be kind, just like these volunteers were kind enough to come out and they gave supplies and they’re helping sort them,” she said.

“There are times when all of us need help. And I think we need to rally around our youths and our children and middle/high school, too, because they’re our future. When they see that you can help each other, I think it teaches them a blessing.”

Anyone interested in donating book bags and school supplies throughout the year can drop them off at the CSS office, at 308 N. William St.

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