Annual Stuff the Bus brings in more than $33,000 in school supplies
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The 4th annual Stuff the Bus started off with a ribbon cutting and cheer from Wal-Mart employees Friday morning in front of the blue Copperas Cove Independent School District activity bus waiting to be loaded with school supplies.
The supplies will be distributed through Communities in Schools to students who qualify for free or reduced meal programs. At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, that number totaled around 58 percent of CCISD students, according to Wendy Sledd, the CCISD director of communications.
Wal-Mart donated the first $1,000 worth of supplies that were loaded onto the bus with the help of Wal-Mart employees and Five Hills Scholarship Pageant Royalty Friday morning. The supplies included notebooks, pencils, folders and erasers among other things, according to Khris Vazquez, the general merchandise co-manager for the Copperas Cove Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart supports this effort to help the community because the community is what makes the store grow, Vazquez said.
“I mean, we’re here for the community and the community continues to show Walmart support so it’s only fair that we show the community support as well,” he added.
Vazquez said Wal-Mart will keep participating in the event.
“We take great pride in seeing the satisfaction on our customers’ faces,” Vazquez said. “Just knowing that we can continue to help the families that need these supplies and also making sure that the kids- you know, one of the things that we don’t want them to do is going to school feeling like they’re not ready or prepared for it, so the more that we can do to get them prepared, the better we feel, the better we are.”
From Friday morning until Sunday evening, Wal-Mart shoppers could take advantage of the tax-free weekend, where there was no sales tax collected on school supplies, clothes and other items, and either buy school supplies to donate to the collection bins located on either side of the store or by donating money to volunteers waiting by the doors.
Outside the store on Friday, Raising Cane’s set up a table where they handed out lemonade or sweet tea to people who donated cash or actual items to the event.
Co-sponsor Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans also set up a concession stand outside, near the blue bus, and provided music all weekend.
Copperas Cove High School DECA members covered the Pharmacy entrance to Wal-Mart Friday morning while the S.C. Lee Junior High Starlettes dancers covered the Grocery entrance, passing out flyers and accepting cash donations. Cheerleaders from CCHS were also present Friday morning.
Sledd shared that many of the students who volunteer know someone who will benefit from the money raised and school supplies donated.
“I mean, this is something that all of our students get involved in because they personally know other kids who cannot afford school supplies,” Sledd said. “So, this is a great way for them to give back and also bring those kids along so they can see how this money is raised and how those school supplies get into their hands.”
Sledd said the goal for this year was $30,000. The Stuff the Bus event raised $27,000 last year, $24,000 in 2016 and $20,000 in 2015.
On what the event means to the school district, Sledd emphasized how important it is for students to have school supplies an be prepared.
“Honestly, when children have the school supplies they need, it helps them be academically successful,” Sledd said, adding that children can’t focus on school work when they’re worried about school supplies.
“I think it’s really important for our teachers because many times when teachers see that the child doesn’t have school supplies, they’ll pull the money out of their pocket and they’ll go buy it,” Sledd added.