By ANGIE CARNATHAN
School is back in session Aug. 8, which means it’s time to get school supplies in order. For some families, however, the financial burden is too much to bear. These are the families Starkville Junior Auxiliary members say they hope to help with their annual Stuff the Bus event today at Walmart.
“The goal of the event is to provide school supplies to children in need,” said Sandra Stevens, chairman of the SJA Children’s Assistance Committee. “We serve all the children of Oktibbeha County.”
Robin Parker, another SJA member, said the event is important to the group because it benefits children in need and the effect is immediate.
“We all have a huge heart for children, and the first day of school can be overwhelming, she said. “This is one way that we can help students make their first day of school a success.”
Parker and the members of the SJA said they feel children have enough to think about on their first day of school without the added stress of missing supplies. Stuff the Bus is held to provide the needed supplies so children can enjoy their first day and keep their mental energy on more important matters.
“They won’t have to worry about not having crayons, paper, pencils, markers or even backpacks,” Parker said. “They can focus on learning about their new classrooms, teachers and friends.”
Stevens said the need at the beginning of the year is usually supplies, but the Children’s Assistance Committee is there to help with whatever needs may arise throughout the school term.
“As the year goes on school uniforms are a greater need,” she said.
The SJA has various ways of finding out who is in need and what the need is.
“Throughout the year, the SJA has committee members that are assigned to each school who keep in touch with school counselors,” Stevens said, “and they let us know what the needs are.” Stuff the Bus is just one of the ways that we help out.”
Stevens said the SJA wants to help any family with school supply needs at this stressful time of year and encourage community members to let them know how they can help.
“Last year there was a lady that walked up from the Methodist church who said her Sunday school class had adopted a family and asked if we could help with that family, and of course we said yes, “ Stevens said. “It’s like a ministry to so many people.”
The SJA takes a supply list from each school and compiles a list of needed items.
“When you go to Walmart on the day of the event, you will be given a small shopping list,” said Parker. “Items range from costing 25 cents to $25. Most of the items needed are below $5. We will need a lot of crayons, glue, scissors, writing tablets and folders.”
All children who have displayed need will receive supplies, according to the SJA, and will be distributed by school counselors.
“They (school counselors) have identified students and made estimates based on previous years,” Stevens said. “Our school counselors do such a great job supporting our children, and they are the key to disbursing the needed supplies to the teachers who teach the students in need.”
The SJA members said they would like to thank all of the local business and industry who support them with donations to help them meet this need, including the residents of Montgomery Gardens who provided assistance by sorting the school supplies to be distributed. They also played a special game of Bingo for school supplies and donated all of their winnings to the Stuff the Bus event.
Stevens said without community support, SJA would not be able to meet this need during this stressful time for students and their families.
“We would like to encourage community members to come by on the (July 29) to donate supplies or money,” said Stevens. “The supplies that are not collected are purchased with donations. It is our goal that all children who start school in August are able to begin with the needed supplies and materials so they can focus on learning and building relationships with their friends.”