Stuff the Bus collects school supplies for CCISD students
By LYNETTE SOWELL
A blue Copperas Cove ISD activity bus was parked on the front walkway at Copperas Cove Walmart for three days and when it left on late Sunday afternoon, it was loaded with school supplies for students in need.
The 3rd annual Stuff the Bus held during Tax Free Weekend will help CCISD students in need of school supplies.
Wendy Sledd, the CCISD public information officer as well as the volunteer director of the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant, estimated that this year’s Stuff the Bus met or exceeded the amount of supplies collected last year.
She said she was concerned that the event might not bring in as many supplies as last year, because tax-free weekend wasn’t held on a payday weekend. That wasn’t the case, as the bus was just as full this year as it was last year.
Also, Sledd said any cash donations that came in during the weekend went right back into purchasing school supplies at the store.
Yesterday morning, the bus was unloaded at Crossroads High School, where volunteers from the high school EXCEL Club and the HUTS Club, made up of homeschool and public school students, helped divvy up the donations by campus.
Then, Communities In Schools representatives for each campus picked up the donated items for their schools.
Sledd said CCISD principals let them know ahead of time what items they needed the most.
The campuses will then distribute the school supplies via CIS, with those students who receive free or reduced meals qualifying to receive supplies. That makes up about 55 percent of CCISD students.
Sledd has already received questions about how students in need will receive the supplies collected over the weekend. Sledd said parents of students who have already been qualified to receive free or reduced meals need to contact the CIS representative on their child’s campus.
“If any families need school supplies and they have not completed the form to qualify for free or reduced meals for the 2017-2018 school year, they need to do so as soon as possible,” Sledd said. “There is a downloadable form on the website.”
She added that just because a student qualified last school year for free or reduced meals, their parent or guardian still needs to complete another form to qualify them for the upcoming school year.
The 3rd annual Stuff the Bus was a success due to the volunteers who took turns covering both entrances to the store. Repeat volunteers this year were Girls Scouts Troop 6120 and the Copperas Cove Junior High School cheerleaders were on hand to help collect school supplies from shoppers as well. A contingent of paraprofessionals from Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy also volunteered on Saturday to drum up support for the children on their campus and all the others. The Scotty Ray Show as well as the cheerleaders provided motivational entertainment over the weekend.
Sledd said items were sorted as they were loaded onto the bus, so she believes more donations came in than last year.
John Robinson with Star Group – Veterans Helping Veterans said the event was all about the children. Robinson and other volunteers from Star Group – VHV kept busy preparing several thousand hot dogs over the weekend.
“This is all about the kids, and we are honored to volunteer here again this year,” Robinson said. “Walmart provided the hot dogs, chips, soda and water, and we’re just helping to hand them out. Customers come out of the store with their donations of school supplies and we give them the food.”
The event kicked off on Friday morning with a ribbon cutting attended by Copperas Cove mayor Frank Seffrood, CCISD superintendent Joe Burns, deputy superintendent Rick Kirkpatrick, along with the Five Hills pageant royalty, and enthusiastic Walmart employees who led them in the Walmart morning cheer and then loaded the first $1,000 worth of supplies onto the bus.
Seffrood and Burns both said a few words before the ribbon was cut.
“We do things together, and we do them well, and we do them often. This is one of the things that helps out so many. It’s just a unity thing,” said Seffrood.
“This is a tremendous, tremendous gift to the students in our district who are less fortunate or are struggling in a time of need,” said Burns, who expressed his thanks to Walmart, Star Group – VHV, along with the Copperas Cove Lions Club, who provided free vision screenings for children. They were able to screen 22 on Friday.