United Way stuffs the bus

Members of the Gering High School football team helped load school supplies that will be distributed to area schools.

SCOTTSBLUFF — As the start of another school year fast approaches, United Way of Western Nebraska is preparing to make sure students have the tools they need for success in the classroom.

For more than a decade, United Way has partnered with Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska (CAPWN) to collect school supplies for children in need through their Stuff the Bus program.

According to United Way Executive Director Steph Black, the number of children participating in the program continues to grow each year.

“Every year I look at the schools’ supply lists and I’m amazed by how much they ask families to bring for students,” she said. “When a family has many children, it can be difficult to make sure the kids have all the supplies they need. Kids that don’t have those supplies for the start of school are at a disadvantage from the beginning.”

From mid-July until early August, CAPWN, United Way volunteers and their business partners are busy collecting new school supplies. Then community volunteers fill backpacks with those supplies, which are available for eligible CAPWN client families.

“Last year we were able to fill 140 backpacks, so it was a successful year,” Black said. “We also delivered 105 boxes of supplies to schools in Scottsbluff, Gering, Mitchell, Morrill, Minatare, Bayard, Bridgeport and Banner County.”

Volunteers will meet on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at the Bluffs Business Center to sort through donations and fill the backpacks. UPS will then deliver the supplies to the school districts.

“The school districts distribute the supplies,” Black said. “People in need of school supplies should contact their school principal and they will get them connected with supplies because they’re available while they last.”

Donations of every kind of school supply are being accepted through Aug. 2 at the United Way office in the Bluffs Business Center in Scottsbluff and at several collection sites around the area. Monetary donations are also being accepted. More information is available on their website at unitedwayofwesternnebraska.com.

“We’re so blessed to have a generous community,” Black said. “The Stuff the Bus vehicle will be at Panhandle Coop on Avenue B on Friday, Aug. 2. A benefit hamburger barbecue is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Half of the $2 ticket price goes to the Stuff the Bus campaign.

Also this year, the Stuff the Bus school supply drive is coming to Sidney. Many of the local area’s United Way Pacesetter businesses have offices in Sidney and wanted to get involved as well.

“Many of the agencies we fund also have satellites in Sidney, so they’ll be accepting donations of school supplies,” Black said. “The Sidney office of CAPWN will be overseeing that.”

Black said other United Way agencies in Box Butte and Dawes counties under their umbrella will also do their own Stuff the Bus programs on those days.

For more information, visit the United Way website or call 308-635-2522.

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Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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