CCISD, Walmart collect school supplies at 6th annual Stuff the Bus
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Independent School District partnered with the Copperas Cove Wal-Mart for the sixth annual Stuff the Bus event to collect more than $20,000 worth of school supplies for needy students this past weekend.
Volunteers with the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant passed out fliers and collected donations at the Grocery side entrance Friday morning through late Sunday afternoon.
By press time, valule of the supplies collected was estimated between $20,000 and $25,000.
This weekend was also Tax-Free weekend in Texas, allowing a small reprieve for parents shopping for school supplies.
Wal-Mart provided the first $950 to jumpstart the supply collection for the event, and Copperas Cove Wal-Mart Manager Mandy Simmerman helped load the first boxes of supplies onto the CCISD blue activity bus parked in front of the store.
“We feel that it is an important thing to do to give back to the community, be able to help out,” Simmerman said. “Especially this year with the pandemic and everybody having to share supplies, they need the donations more than ever this year, so for us to be able to help and be partners with the ISD is a great honor.”
Wal-Mart is a constant support for the district, providing supplies for events and clubs throughout the school year, she added.
Simmerman said she felt it is important for the community to know that Wal-Mart is not just there to be a grocery store but to help its community.
CCISD Communications Director Wendy Sledd said she was grateful to Wal-Mart for agreeing to allow the event to continue this year.
Typically, the event features live entertainment and music, a concession stand and student volunteers collecting donations at both entrances.
Due to the pandemic, Wal-Mart has limited entrance and exit to the Grocery side doors only. To allow for social distancing, there was no entertainment or multiple student groups allowed to collect donations this year either.
“I think Wal-Mart Corporate as well as our local Wal-Mart management sees the value in ensuring that our kids have what they need because they are our future and they grow up to be contributing citizens to society,” Sledd said. “We are grateful that we are able to have it in any form at all but especially this year because it will be needed more than ever.”
The collected supplies will be distributed to students in need through Communities In Schools.
Parents of students in need of school supplies should contact their student’s CIS campus representative. They will also need to ensure that they have already completed the free and reduced meal application which can be found on the district’s website www.ccisd.com.
“I think our goal is always to help students as much as we can,” Sledd said. “Each year, we have watched this event climb in the amount of school supplies and the value that we have raised. That may not be the case this year with the pandemic, but I can tell you the kids that don’t have to worry about their school supplies and where they’re coming from are able to focus on their academic lessons, so that’s their goal here.”
As revealed in the district’s reopening plans, students will not be sharing school supplies, and all students will need to have the supplies found on the School Supply List, whether they are doing at-home learning or on-campus learning.
“I think there’s a misconception that students that have chosen the at-home learning option do not need supplies but they absolutely do,” Sledd said. “They will be getting the same rigor of academic studies that our in-class, on-campus students will be receiving. The two will mirror each other.”
Sledd said that “every pencil, every piece of paper, every bottle of glue, every backpack truly makes a difference.”
Sledd said she was also grateful to the other community partners who have been collecting school supplies at their own businesses and then bringing them to Wal-Mart to drop off at the blue bus.
“We’re grateful for that because again our free and reduced lunch rate is 72 percent, and we know it’s even higher than that because unfortunately some parents are unable to complete the application, so the need is definitely there,” Sledd said. “People don’t realize that because we do a good job of taking care of our families in Copperas Cove, but the need is definitely there.”
CCISD offers free universal breakfast district wide, free or reduced lunch, as well as a weekend backpack program at some campuses for kids to take home food on the weekends. The district also has clothing pantries at campuses and provides school supplies.
“CCISD works really hard to take care of the whole child,” Sledd said. “Yes, academics is what we’re all about, but that child also has to be able to focus on their studies and not worry about that they don’t have clothing or don’t have school supplies or don’t have food in their tummies or where their next meal is coming from. So, this is one piece of a much bigger method of the way we take care of children.”