August 14, 2009

Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive Jessamine Co. 2009
Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive Jessamine Co. 2009

It's that time again - children all around Kentucky are diving into a new school year. Unfortunately, not all parents can afford the sometimes long list of school supplies. But folks in one central Kentucky county recently gathered to "Stuff the Bus" to help all students enjoy a great start.

"Many families face the dilemma of buying school supplies for their children," said Marisa FitzGerald Aull, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer sciences in Jessamine County. "School supplies are an essential part of the learning process, and many families are struggling right now and just can't afford to purchase these items."

FitzGerald Aull partnered with Office Depot and the Jessamine County Schools Family Resource Centers at to host Stuff the Bus, a two-day drive to collect school supplies in the Office Depot parking lot and literally stuff a school bus full of items for area school children.

"The economy is really challenging, and we've got 200 to 300 students who won't have the basic supplies on day one," said Debbie Montgomery, director of the Family Resource Center at Nicholasville's Brookside Elementary. "Many of the parents know they won't be able to afford supplies, and they come to us and ask for assistance. We pull the teacher's supply lists and highlight what we are able to provide. The parents are just so grateful, especially when they see the bigger items like backpacks and clipboards."

Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive Jessamine Co. 2009Montgomery said that many parents just get overwhelmed with the cost of supplies, especially when they have three or four children to buy for at once and some of those students in upper grade levels need expensive items like graphing calculators.

Dorinda Pettit has been the store manager at Office Depot in Nicholasville since it opened more than a year ago. She said she was glad to help in the supply drive and decided to make it coincide with their annual Star Teacher day which included a breakfast and discounts for teachers. Pettit said Office Depot also allows customers to allocate a portion of their total receipts to the school of their choice as yet one more way the store partners with community members to offer students a richer academic experience.

"It's been absolutely fantastic to see the response from the community to this effort," she said. "It just makes you feel good to know that so many children will have what they need at school because of this."

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Writer: Aimee Nielson, 859-257-7707

UK College of Agriculture, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.