One of the best parts of back-to-school time for kids is undoubtedly back to school shopping. For a 90s kid like me, there was nothing better than a new Lisa Frank folder and a pack of glitter gel pens. For many Oklahoma families, though, coming up with the extra money to pay for the school supplies for their children can be a struggle. Always looking to remain involved in the community, the United Way of Norman continues to support the Stuff the Bus fundraiser to help ease the burden of these families in need by raising money to provide school supplies for local children.
The Rotary Interact Club at Norman High School originally started Stuff the Bus through a partnership with the United Way Teen Advisors of Norman. The fundraiser’s committee is comprised entirely of high school students with some assistance from local rotary clubs and adult advisors. 2014 marks the fifth year for the Norman Stuff the Bus fundraiser.
This year’s event will take place on July 27th in the Sooner Mall parking lot located at 3301 W. Main Street from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You will be able to easily spot the event given that, of course, the fundraiser’s school bus will be parked outside the mall! Last year over $18,000 was raised for Stuff the Bus according to Diane Murphree, United Way’s Director of Community Impact. Between 700 and 1,000 children have consistently been helped by this fundraising effort. For 2014, volunteers hope to garner an additional $2,000 for a total fundraising goal of $20,000. It takes approximately $30 to stuff a backpack full of school supplies for one child, so even the smallest of contributions have a large impact.
Low-income families in need of the assistance Stuff the Bus provides can register for the program from July 14 -18 at the Bethel Baptist Multipurpose Building located at 1132 McGee in Norman. Registration will take place each day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will serve families with children in grades Pre-K through 12th grade who attend school in Lexington, Little Axe, Noble, Norman and Robin Hill. Interested families must bring current proof of income (including TANF, SSI, DHS, child support, etc.), current proof of residence, social security cards for all family members and a current driver’s license or photo identification card. The school supply distribution is set to take place on August 9 from 9 a.m. to noon at the same location.
If any school supplies and funds are left over after distribution, the United Way receives referrals from counselors to ensure that all of the items make their way into the hands of children in need. The items being provided include crayons, Kleenex, pencils, spiral notebooks, scissors, watercolors, markers, glue sticks, folders, erasers, pencil sharpeners, pencil bags, pens, combination locks, composition notebooks, colored pencils, 1 inch binders, dividers, notebook paper, construction paper, dry erase markers and school boxes.
“The high school students put a lot of time and effort into this program,” says Ms. Murphree. “They realize that children in Norman should have the advantage of starting school with all the supplies that they need to be successful. They make that happen through Stuff the Bus.”
If you would like to get involved with this cause but do not have time to stop by the event, you can donate online at www.unitedwaynorman.org/STB. More information on the Stuff the Bus program can also be found at this site or you can contact the United Way of Norman at 405-329-2025.