CCISD holds annual stuff the bus school supplies collection

By BRITTANY FHOLER 
Cove Leader-Press

Shoppers at the Copperas Cove Wal-Mart helped stuff a blue bus with school supplies during Tax-Free weekend during the fifth annual Stuff the Bus event hosted by Wal-Mart to benefit the less-fortunate students of the Copperas Cove Independent School District. 
The event kicked off with a ribbon cutting ceremony by the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and a check presentation from Wal-Mart to represent the first round of supplies loaded onto the bus. 
Copperas Cove Mayor Bradi Diaz and Copperas Cove ISD Deputy Superintendent Rick Kirkpatrick cut the ribbon in front of the blue bus. They were joined by Copperas Cove City Manager Ryan Haverlah, members of Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans, members of the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant Royalty, Copperas Cove Junior High School cheerleaders and Bulldawg mascots and dozens of Walmart employees, including co-manager Amy Young. 
Members of the Five Hills royalty lined up on the bus and passed along the first shopping cart of school supplies provided by Operation Stand Down Central Texas before Wal-Mart employees began unloading and passing along $1,500 worth of school supplies from a pallet and onto the bus.
Young explained that the employees at the Copperas Cove Wal-Mart love being able to help out and consider the kick-off to the weekend-long event like a field-trip. She added that Wal-Mart helps out every year because that’s what Wal-Mart is all about. 
“It’s to benefit the community,” Young said. “You have certain people out there that maybe can’t afford to buy their own school supplies, so this is a good thing for the community to get involved and help families out.” 
The Five Hills royalty put in a total of at least 25 hours of volunteer work this weekend, loading the bus, counting and organizing the supplies. The value of each donated item is kept track of through a Wal-Mart scanner. 
The event collected $35,000 worth of supplies last year. 
“This is our fifth year to do the event, and the first four years, we were extremely fortunate to raise over a $100,000 [total] in school supplies,” Sledd said. 
 “If you think about that compared to the Copperas Cove city population which is about 32,000, we have an extremely generous community. That’s more than $1 per person,” Sledd said. “So, we’re very grateful because this helps students in our district to have school supplies so they’re not worrying about that and they can focus on their academics and be successful.”
The goal for this year was to raise $38,000, according to Young and CCISD Communications Director Wendy Sledd. 
Different organizations dropped off donated school supplies and money to help stuff the bus, including the Copperas Cove Exchange Club, Operation Stand Down, Chick-fil-A, Burke’s Outlet, 1st National Bank, PenFed Credit Union and Bush’s Chicken, which provided iced tea and lemonade at the cost of a donation which went right back to purchasing school supplies. 
Star GroupVeterans Helping Veterans manned a concessions stand and sold food and drinks provided by Wal-Mart for a donation as well, with each donation going to purchase supplies. They also provided the music for the three-day event. SG-VHV has been a partner in the Stuff the Bus event for several years. 
“This is our way of getting involved in the community, giving back in the community and assisting and helping out each other where we possibly can,” said Joseph Hill, the Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans event coordinator. 
 “We are blessed to have not just individual support, which is amazing, but community support of our businesses as well,” Sledd said. 
Volunteers and members of the Five Hills royalty were at Wal-Mart Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to collect donations. 
Cheerleaders from Copperas Cove Junior High stood at the entrance of the Market side of Wal-Mart and alternated in shouting out a cheer and asking shoppers to donate to the Stuff the Bus event Friday morning.
Shoppers had the option of giving cash or picking up supplies during their shopping and donating that way. 
On Monday, volunteers helped un-stuff the bus to divide by grade level and school and distribute supplies to Communities in Schools representatives who took the supplies back to their respective campuses. 
During Meet the Teacher/Open House, which will be August 15 for most campuses, parents can let their Communities in Schools representative know if their child needs school supplies. 
 This year, CCISD is expecting an enrollment of approximately 8,200 students. At Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary, with the renovation and opening of the Fairview side, enrollment is expected to go from around 400 to a max of about 700 students, Sledd said. 
For those who wish to donate still, Sledd said they could take supplies to their campus where their children attend, or they can drop supplies off at the District and Service Training Center at 408 S. Main Street. 
One of the most needed donated items are earbuds/headphones and backpacks, Sledd said. 
“Many of our students are on computers and iPads and things, doing their lessons because that way they can learn at an accelerate pace or slower pace if that’s what that student needs to get a good grasp of that information, so they all have to have earbuds when they’re on the computer so they don’t disturb their neighbor next to them, but they can’t share those for sanitary reasons, so we need a lot of earbuds,” Sledd said. “I think a lot of people think of pencil and paper, which is wonderful- we definitely need that for elementary kids- but we also need those earbuds and backpacks.”
Sledd also wanted to encourage people to remember the district and its students come January, following Christmas break. 
“Absolutely we will raise a tremendous amount of supplies here, but please remember when we go back to school in January that the supplies that we raise here will be depleted,” she added. 
 

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