The United Way of the CSRA sought to ease that financial strain with its Stuff the Bus school supply drive Friday. At least 25 companies contributed to the drive at the Kroc Center, said United Way marketing manager Vicki Fricks.
Donated items such as notebooks, pencil pouches and hand sanitizer were distributed equally in boxes for a Richmond County school bus and a Columbia County school bus, which were parked outside.
Afterward, the buses were driven to the two boards of education. On Monday, each board will distribute the supplies to their schools.
Students who need supplies will be able to get them from their school guidance counselor.
“That way the guidance counselors are able to keep a hand on who really needs the assistance,” Fricks said.
She said an average family can spend between $500 and $600 on school supplies, which is a problem for families near the poverty level.
This is the fourth year of Stuff the Bus, Fricks said. It’s usually been held in Walmart parking lots, where volunteers appealed to shoppers to purchase and donate extra supplies. A Stuff the Bus drive will be held at Walmart in Waynesboro today.
In Richmond and Columbia counties, the organization found better results by appealing to companies to conduct internal school supply drives, Fricks said.
Two years ago, a drive at Walmart raised about $8,000 for supplies. Last year, by receiving donations from companies, the United Way received about $19,000 for supplies.
“For two months after the drive, companies were still bringing supplies,” Fricks said.
The excess was shared with Lincoln and Jefferson counties. Everything donated Friday will stay in Richmond and Columbia counties.
The Border Bash Foundation donated $4,000, which will be used to buy more expensive supplies that are not often donated, such as jump drives, calculators and bookbags.
Each company received an alphabetical list of supplies needed.
Among the companies involved was AB Beverage. Julie Hammond, who used donations from co-workers at AB Beverage to buy supplies, said she started at the bottom of the list and worked her way up.
“I think maybe (the bottom is) where they’ll be short of stuff,” she said.