CIS asking shoppers to ‘stuff the bus’

Aug. 08, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

Reading and writing and arithmetic — can get expensive.

And as it has in years past, Communities in Schools of Lee County is holding a “Stuff the Bus” supply drive to offset back-to-school costs for students and teachers in need. The drive began July 28 and will continue through Aug. 22.

“The price of school supplies, like everything else, continues to go up ... ,” said CIS Executive Director Heather McKenzie. “[The drive] is a great opportunity for us to make sure those kids get started off on the right foot.”

The annual collection typically has been held in conjunction with tax-free weekend, McKenzie said, which was repealed in North Carolina for 2014. This year, patrons were given several weeks to contribute when they visit the Sanford Walmart, all three Walgreens locations, BB&T (Spring Lane or Horner Boulevard) and the CIS office at 211 South Steele St.

Last year, “we gave out thousands of items to hundreds of students,” McKenzie said. But this time around, the yield is not meeting her hopes and expectations so far. 

“We have collected very, very little,” McKenzie said. “We’ve had the bins out about two weeks now, and it is not progressing the way we’d really like.”

Meanwhile, more families than ever are turning to CIS, unable to afford classroom necessities themselves.

“Last year, especially, we gave out more supplies than we ever have before,” McKenzie said. “So the need is definitely there, and the need has definitely increased.” 

Johnnye Waller, director of student services for Lee County Schools, said while classes don’t resume until Aug. 25, that need is becoming apparent for the coming school year.

“We’re already having people call and needing help with school supplies,” she said. “We are very appreciative of Communities in Schools; they do such an awesome job getting supplies together and making them accessible.”

Several local businesses and churches have committed to helping CIS’s cause, including Moen, Pfizer and 3M, McKenzie said, and she stressed that it’s not too late for other companies and organizations to collect.  

“[Recipients] are always very, very grateful,” McKenzie said. “Especially if there are multiple kids in a family, it lessens the burden.”

And as for the children, Waller said, receiving the items always puts a smile on their face.

“It’s nice for us to know we have a community that cares that much and wants them to have that positive beginning,” she said. “We want to say thank you to our community; we appreciate the difference they make.”

Those who are unable to go shopping still can contribute with monetary donations. Those may be sent, c/o Communities in Schools, to P.O. Box 1132, Sanford, N.C. 27331, and should be designated for “School Supplies.”

The “Stuff the Bus” wish list contains a full range of back-to-school basics like pencils, paper, backpacks, pencils, crayons, rulers and scissors, as well as other needs like hand sanitizer and facial tissues. For the full list, visit ttp://leecountync.communitiesinschools.org and click on “supply wish list and locations.”

Those in need of supplies can contact the CIS office at (919) 718-5426.