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Virtual "Stuff the Bus" event kicked off by Dawson County Family Connection
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Due to COVID-19 concerns, the annual Stuff the Bus event will be held virtually this year, with an Amazon wishlist open for local residents to donate and help students in need. - photo by Jessica Taylor

Throughout the month of July, Dawson County Family Connection will host a “Virtual Stuff the Bus” drive to raise school supplies for local children in need. 

According to Family Connection Coordinator Nancy Stites, under normal circumstances, the school supply drive is held in person, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that was not possible this year. 

“We usually do one collection day; we’ve done it at Walmart or Kroger in the past,” Stites said, “We’ve had a school bus there with a big sign and set up a tent outside. So people would shop at the store, buy school supplies and drop it in our bin on the way out.” 

But because holding an in-person drive is off the table this year, Family Connection has taken the school supply drive online. 

“We most likely won’t have one day to set up in public this year because some people are still uncomfortable in person, so we decided to try it this way,” Stites said. 

The main way the organization will be collecting school supply donations this year, is through an Amazon wishlist. The link to the wishlist is on the Family Connection Facebook page, and any supplies purchased through the wishlist will be mailed directly to Family Connection. 

“It’s convenient, and it gives some flexibility in your spending because you can buy in bulk or you can buy just a single notebook,” Stites said. “So if you don’t have a lot to spend and just want to buy one item, that’s awesome and thank you very much!” 

The group is also hoping to set up some collection sites in the community for people who do still want to donate physical items. 

“Our bins haven’t come in yet so we don’t know where they’re going to be, but we’re hoping to have about 4 or 5 locations in the community, like at different businesses,” Stites said. “As soon as I know where they’re going to be, we’ll let the community know and then we’ll leave the bins out throughout July and a week or two into August until school starts.” 

Before the school starts in August, Family Connection will give all the donated school supplies to the school system, which will then distribute items directly to students in need. 

“Individuals needing assistance to purchase schools supplies can fill out an application on the school website and the Family Connection Facebook page, and the ones that qualify will come pick up their backpacks on July 29 and June 30,” Stites said. 

Any and all donations, no matter how big or small, can make a huge difference for local children who can’t afford to purchase their own school supplies, according to Stites.

“We’re a little afraid they’re not going to have as many supplies donated as they did last year, so we just really appreciate any donations,” Stites said. 

To donate to the school supply drive online, visit the drive’s Amazon wishlist at https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/36T1V12KUATAY/ref=hz_ls_biz_ex.

For more details on the virtual drive and where in the community the physical collection bins will be, visit the Dawson County Family Connection website at http://dawson.gafcp.org/ or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Dawson-County-Family-Connection-197796903628910/?ref=settings

For those needing assistance with purchasing school supplies, the application can be found on the school system’s website at https://dawsoncountyschools.org/parents/school_supply_application