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Stuff the Bus ensures area kids are ready for school

(NTV News)

With the start of school being right around the corner, this means it's time to start thinking about school supplies.

For the past 17 years, Stuff the Bus has been aiming to lessen that burden for parents by making sure students feel prepared heading back to the classroom.

"We just want every kid here in Grand Island to be able to have the school supplies they need to be successful in a school year." William Swett, a volunteer said.

Stuff the Bus is here to help with that by handing out free school supplies to those in need. They start by collecting supplies at ShopKo and Walmart (north and south) in Grand Island.

"As they collect supplies from around town, we sort them. We have a bunch of different stations and then we'll take a backpack and go around and we'll fill at each station, certain supplies, based on who's going to be getting the backpack,” Swett said.

One backpack filling station is for grade school students.

"The elementary school kids are going to get things like glue sticks and scissors and things like that," Swett said.

While the other is for junior high and high school students. They even give out hygiene kits.

17 years ago, Verna Haberman, a former Grand Island Public School teacher, started the 'Stuff the Bus' project with one goal in mind.

"Make sure every kid could smell that fresh box of crayons and they could get that tablet of new paper waiting for words to jump out on it and get them excited because school is a wonderful place to be. And there's no place like the first day of school," Haberman said.

She said she hopes her helping hand causes the kids to want to give back too.

"They'll pass it on to somebody tomorrow. Whether it's when they're 10, 20, or 30... when they see somebody that's in need, or when they see somebody that's in need, or their community is doing some kind of coat drive, toilet paper drive, or back to school drive that they're going to remember one day they were helped, so they're willing to give back," Haberman said.

Stuff the bus is still taking donations through Walmart and ShopKo in Grand Island.

They’re handing out backpacks out this Tuesday, August 8th.

In order to get a backpack either a caseworker, or get a referral slip at the Salvation Army, or the Central Nebraska Community Action Programs must refer you.

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