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      Stuff the Bus: School Supply Donations Help Hundreds

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      It’s time to start thinking back-to-school, but getting everything on the supply list can sometimes be more than a family on a tight budget can afford.

      The look, feel, and smell of new school supplies adds to the excitement of the first day back, and Grand Island Public Schools Outreach Coordinator Verna Haberman makes sure every child has them in hand.

      “I’m looking at giving out probably another 500 backpacks throughout the school year 2014-2015,” says Haberman, noting that last year she distributed 300 from Stuff the Bus in the fall and another 200 throughout the year to homeless and transit kids coming to school.

      This is the 14th year for Stuff the Bus, and Haberman says they’re again counting on community help.

      “We see that everybody gets spiral notebooks, pocket folders, pencil box that’s got crayons, scissors, pencils, pens, erasers,” she says.

      Volunteers like the Douglass family spend some of their summer vacation outside places like Wal-Mart and Shopko, sites of this year’s Stuff drives, asking shoppers to buy while they’re inside and give on their way out.

      “We try to get to every person we can, ask them to help us out and then when someone does come back with a bag of school supplies we just thank them and let them know how much we appreciate it,” says Brooks Douglass, a freshman this school year.

      Brooks’ mom Donna got involved with the first Stuff the Bus, and has been bringing her sons along ever since.

      “They’re all here today, plus a cousin and a friend - having kids do things for kids, people respond to that and it’s good for our whole family,” says Donna.

      The family says they understand how expensive the school year start can be.

      “Every kid deserves a really good education and you can’t do that without the necessary supplies and this just helps get it out to people that can’t get them normally,” says Brooks.

      “Life happens and sometimes you need a little help, so for them to be able to have the school supplies they need to start the year and feel like they fit in and they belong is a really great thing,” says Donna.

      How to Help:

      Stuff the Bus volunteers will be at both Grand Island Wal-Marts and Shopko on Friday, Aug. 1. For more information, contact Verna Haberman, GIPS Outreach Coordinator at 308-385-5900.

      The United Way of the Kearney Area held their Stuff the Bus drives earlier this month. To find out more about their current needs, call their office at 308-237-6840.

      The Salvation Army in Hastings is also collecting school supplies at their location - 400 South Burlington Ave. Call 402-463-0529 for more information.


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