Help needed to ‘Stuff the Bus’With the start of the school year right around the corner many people may not realize the number of children in the community who struggle to get basic school supplies.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
With the start of the school year right around the corner many people may not realize the number of children in the community who struggle to get basic school supplies.
That’s why for the fourth year Stuff the Bus is back at the Buffalo Mall, giving people the chance to donate to those in need.
Last year 129 students were given backpacks filled with basic school supplies through the program. This year that number is closer to 150 students in need.
“The donations are way down, but the numbers of people that are asking for them (supplies) are way up,” said RaeAnn Kracht, food pantry coordinator, Community Action Region VI.
Kracht is one-third of the team that is coordinating Stuff the Bus. She collects names of children in need and distributes donated supplies.
Kracht is joined by Shirley Jackson, manager of Riddle’s Jewelry and Kim Diede, administrative assistant with IRET Properties, which owns the Buffalo Mall.
“Many of the children we’ve helped out in the past come from homes where a parent works two jobs,” Diede said.
Donations can work two ways: people can buy the supplies and drop them off at the IRET office in the mall, at Riddle’s or at Gate City Bank, or people can donate cash or a check at those locations that will be used for the purchase of school supplies.
New this year by the bus in the mall is a desk setting with five dolls at five desks that represent students at school. A sixth desk is left empty, which represents a missing student who couldn’t afford supplies.
“The message we want to get across this year is ‘how would you like to be that child?’” Diede said.
The supplies go to K-12 students in and around Jamestown. Community Action Region VI provides assistance to nine counties which include Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells counties. About half of the donations go outside of Jamestown.
According to Bob Toso, superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools, some elementary schools here are made up of more than 50 percent of students considered to be living in poverty.
Toso said he supports the work of the program which gives administrators one less thing to worry about.
“We see the need in the community,” Jackson said. “There’s a few kids in this community that don’t have any school supplies.”
While donations are currently down, Stuff the Bus organizers expect donations to increase before the drive ends on Aug. 13.
So far social organizations like the Kiwanis, Rotary and Optimist clubs have agreed to help. The community also helped during a Crazy Day fundraiser, but more is needed, Diede said.
“I think there’s a need in our community,” she said. “It’s a positive impact on children going back to school — and there is a need.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org