School buses at Neosho Wal-Mart and Dollar General in Goodman were loaded with donated school supplies on Saturday, as Neosho Bright Futures hosted their third annual Stuff the Bus school supply drive.
Barb Lake, Bright Futures coordinator for the Neosho R-5 School District, said the donations started rolling in as soon as the event kicked off Saturday morning.
"It's gone really well today, we've had great turnout," Lake said. "Everyone has been so giving and receptive."
Lake said between the two locations approximately 30 volunteers participated. The volunteers greeted shoppers at the door, handing out lists of needed supplies, and collecting supplies and monetary donations.
Julie Graue, a Bright Futures volunteer, said making sure students have the school supplies they need is the goal of the event.
"All kids deserve to start the school year with a new backpack, new pencils and other new supplies, just like the other children have," Graue said as she sorted donations in a Neosho R-5 school bus parked in front of the Neosho Wal-Mart. "It truly can make a difference in their academics."
Lake said paper was the most donated item, though she said the group couldn't get too much of any one supply.
"There's nothing we're getting too much of because we will use everything," Lake said. "We have gotten just about everything on the school supply list. We gave everyone a slip with a list of items and then we also put shelf flags up in the store, which will tay up until school starts."
There will also be a donation bin at the Neosho Wal-Mart until school begins, where donated supplies can be dropped off.
Lake said the group is also in need of small sizes of children's underwear, to keep the district's elementary nurses stocked up for accidents.
The group will also continue to accept donations at the Neosho R-5 Administrative Center, 418 Fairground Road.
Lake said for many children, getting new school supplies is part of the excitement of a new school year. She said the group is striving to make sure every child can share in that excitement.
"Every kid should be able to experience that and not worry about not having what they need for school," Lake said. "There are kids that will come to school on the first day without the supplies they need, simply because their parents don't have the money."
The items collected at Saturday's school supply drive will benefit district children assisted directly through the Bright Futures organization, as well as students participating in Abundant Life Church's We Care Fair, which is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 3.
Volunteers said the drive is about lending a helping hand to those in the community who could use a little extra help preparing for the upcoming school year.
Page 2 of 2 - "I just feel like it's really important for us to give back to the people who are less fortunate, especially all the great things that Bright Futures does," said volunteer Taylor Mitchell, a recent NHS graduate and former president of the Bright Futures student group. "It opens up so many opportunities for children that they wouldn't have otherwise."
Mitchell, along with her family, was volunteering at the Wal-Mart entrance Saturday afternoon.
She said people seemed excited to help out Bright Futures' cause.
"We've had a really great turnout," Mitchell said, as a man handed her a $5 bill to donate to the group. "It's really awesome that we live in a community that wants to help reach out to so many children."
Lake said the group's next event will be at the Wildcat Pride Night, scheduled for Aug. 17, where they will be collecting Neosho Wildcat attire for district students.
To learn more about Neosho Bright Futures or how to help, visit www.brightfuturesneosho.org, or contact Lake at 451-8600, ext. 1163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.