The event will be held at Bradley Square Mall from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is being held to collect school supplies for backpacks that will be distributed by The Refuge the following weekend.
“We were so pleased to hear the number of backpacks that The Refuge handed out to those needing assistance last year, and we wanted to do what we could to help them with this great initiative,” said Matt Ryerson, United Way of Bradley County president and CEO.
Last year, The Refuge distributed close to 475 backpacks to students as they began school. This distribution is through The Refuge’s School Supply Provision program.
“So many families are not able to purchase all of the items required of their children as they enter the school year,” noted Kelli Kyle, The Refuge’s director of Community Development. “This is our way of helping them, so these families can concentrate on other financial issues, and children can be better prepared when school begins.”
The School Supply Provision program requires families to sign up for the backpack distribution, and pay a $1 fee. Proceeds from the project are used to purchase school supplies for the program for the following year.
“But we have more and more requests each year, and the cost of supplies continues to increase, so when we have donations of these materials, it helps us tremendously,” Kyle said.
“That’s where we want to help,” Ryerson added. “United Ways across the state and the country are involved in similar ‘Stuff the Bus’ events, and we wanted to do something to help The Refuge help our neighbors in need, so it seemed appropriate to conduct this ‘Stuff the Bus’ event.”
In a spirit of collaboration seen throughout the community, United Way of Bradley County contacted the Bradley Square Mall, which agreed to allow a bus to be parked in a very visible location at the mall. Bradley County Schools agreed to provide a bus for the event.
Others then joined the list of those wanting to get involved. Applebee’s agreed to donate gift cards for all who make donations of school supplies at the “Stuff the Bus” event, and several mall merchants and nearby merchants — such as JCPenney, Don Ledford Automotive Center and Cleveland Family YMCA — agreed to donate gift certificates, with winners to be drawn at the end of the event from those who make school supply donations.
Peyton’s Southeastern is contributing 300 Crayola 24-count crayon packs while Bradley Square Mall is also contributing water bottles to be given to the first 100 who make donations at the event.
School supplies being requested for the backpacks include:
n Elementary school backpacks: No. 2 pencils, Elmer’s glue bottles, glue sticks, rulers, Fiskar (brand) scissors, two-pocket folders, wide-ruled paper, Crayola markers, pencil boxes and composition books;
n Middle school backpacks: No. 2 pencils, rulers, wide-ruled paper, pens, three-ring binders, highlighters, binder pencil holders, dividers, colored pencils, index cards and pencil sharpener; and
n High school backpacks: No. 2 pencils, subject notebooks, college-ruled paper, pens, three-ring binders, highlighters, binder pencil holders, dividers, erasers, index cards and pencil sharpener.
For those who are unable to bring school supplies to the “Stuff the Bus” event, there are collection barrels in local businesses and churches. School supplies may be dropped off at Camelot Care Center, the Department of Children’s Services, Durkee Road Church of God of Prophecy and Applebee’s. Monetary donations can be made at Fulin’s Asian Cuisine, The Spot, the Little Diner on First, and at both locations of BonLife Coffee.
Supplies may be dropped off at The Refuge offices, located in the Family Support Center at 1075 Blythe Ave., Suite 8. The Family Support Center is housed in the old Blythe Avenue Elementary School building.
School supplies may also be dropped off at the United Way of Bradley County offices at 85 Ocoee St. S.E.