Classes are out and summer break is in full swing, but representatives working with Dawson County Family Connection are already looking towards the start of the 2021-22 school year and have officially begun the annual “Stuff the Bus” fundraiser. The initiative is aimed at gathering school supplies for local children going back to school in the fall.
According to Family Connection Coordinator Rebecca Bliss, this year’s Stuff the Bus school supply drive will have several options of how community members can donate, including dropping off school supplies in person, purchasing them online or sending in a monetary donation.
“We’re blessed with anything that we get — if you want guidelines of what specific supplies we need you can look at our Amazon wish list but we’ll accept any supplies,” Bliss said.
Donations will be collected during the entirety of the summer, and those in need of a backpack for school in the fall can register to pick it up at the end of July. Bliss said that pick-up dates will be drive-through style on July 28 and 29, or on July 30 by appointment only. The cost for a backpack will be $1, and those wishing to receive one must register ahead of time online.
“All of the supplies will be already sorted by age, so kids will be able to pick out and purchase their backpack for a dollar and then somebody comes and puts the grade-appropriate supplies in their bag,” Bliss said, “and then they get to head on their way ready for school.”
Bliss said that Family Connection also hopes to have a couple other community groups join them for this year’s pickup dates, potentially with other items for parents and children to take home.
Bliss said that each year, the Stuff the Bus drive is able to serve around 350 children, and that she and other Family Connection representatives hope that this year could bring more students than previous years.
“With the growth that’s going on around here, we always expect a little bit more,” Bliss said. “I’m not sure how many we have signed up yet, but we’re planning for 350 and hoping for maybe up to 500.”
For the children who receive the backpacks, Bliss said that the school supplies can make a big difference.
“The way we look at it is any kid that walks into the school their first day and they’re proud and they have all the supplies they need, that hopefully they’ll be set up for success,” Bliss said.
To donate to the 2021 Stuff the Bus school supply drive, visit the Stuff the Bus Amazon wishlist at https://amzn.to/3z5kRI4 to purchase supplies and have them sent directly to Family Connection for distribution. You can also drop off school supply donations at the Family Connection office at 96 Academy Avenue, or at the Stuff the Bus dropbox at Associated Credit Union at 4200 Dawson Forest Road E.
For offices or businesses interested in helping collect supplies, you can reach out to Family Connection to borrow a decorated collection bin. To donate money to help with the school supply fundraiser, checks can be mailed to Family Connection at P.O. Box 872 with “Stuff the Bus” in the memo line.
Bliss said that while the backpacks will be given out at the end of July, Family Connection will always accept school supply donations so there isn’t a cut-off date for donations.
“Kids that get backpacks at the beginning of the year usually have to get restocked at some point in time during the year,” Bliss said. “There’s always a need throughout the year for some supplies for somebody.”
Those needing a backpack with school supplies can sign up through the Dawson County School System website at https://dawsoncountyschools.org/.For more information on the 2021 Stuff the Bus fundraiser, go to https://bit.ly/3z1QKBa or contact Niki Mincey at (706) 265-3246, Ext. 1736.