School supply drives kick into gear as the start of the school year inches closer
As the beginning of the school year draws nearer, Washtenaw County residents have the chance to help the region's neediest students get the school supplies they otherwise couldn’t afford.
Collection sites for school supply drives have been set up at multiple locations, seeking donations that ensure that new backpacks, folders, markers and other items will be waiting in classrooms for kids whose parents can't buy them.
Courtesy of Peri Stone-Palmquist
Ypsilanti superintendent Dedrick Martin said in a statement that the "Stuff the Bus" campaign provided school supplies for about 3,000 students in the district in 2010-11. He said the drive has an enormous impact for those children.
“This (drive) is a critically needed item in our schools,” he said. “Our kids deserve to come to school well prepared and ready to compete with their counterparts.”
Stuff the Bus takes place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 15-19 at the Target store located at 3749 Carpenter Road. The drive will benefit students in Ypsilanti Public Schools, Lincoln Consolidated Schools, Whitmore Lake Public Schools, Chelsea School District, Willow Run Community Schools and Manchester Community Schools.
After the drive is completed, the supplies are sent directly to the school buildings, Ypsilanti schools spokesperson Emma Jackson said. They are available as needed by students throughout the school year.
All of the school supplies generated by the Stuff the Bus event will also help area teachers, according to Lincoln superintendent Ellen Bonter.
Bonter said the supplies that are donated to the district will help free up additional supplies that teachers or the school district would have to buy.
“The excitement of coming back to school is there for children and the ones who can afford supplies get excited and the ones that can’t afford it don’t have that same level of excitement,” Bonter said. “This can help all children.”
The Washtenaw County Education Project for Homeless Youth is also collecting school supplies at several locations throughout the area.
Peri Stone-Palmquist, the coordinator of the education project, said the annual school supply drive will benefit the county’s homeless students whose families might struggle to pay for rent and food, let alone backpacks, folders and pencils.
Drop off locations are at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, 1819 Wagner Road, local United Bank and Trust locations and SOS Community Services, 101 S. Huron St. in Ypsilanti. The drive goes on officially until Aug. 26, but Stone-Palmquist said the education project is always accepting donations.
“Our families can’t afford to pay for their housing or to pay for basic necessities like food,” she said. “We always get so much appreciation from all of our families for this kind of support.”
The education project is almost completely out of pocket folders, backpacks, books and coloring utensils like markers and colored pencils.
The supplies generated from school supply drives are often given out to students throughout the school year, Stone-Palmquist said. It’s important to keep supporting all the education projects’ students throughout the school year to provide a stable platform for the students, she said.
“We try not to turn anyone down and the community always supports the kids,” she said.
The supply drives also give local businesses a chance to help out the communities they’re located in, organizers said.
One example is Comerica Bank, which is operating a drop-off at its Ann Arbor-area branches on behalf of Operation: Kid Equip. Supplies collected will be distributed to local classrooms, according to the bank. That effort runs through Aug. 19.