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07-27-11-stuffthebuslogo.jpgIf you’ve been shopping lately, you’ll notice enormous back-to-school displays. Those super sales on school supplies have already begun. It’s hard to believe that summer is already more than half gone.

This year as you stock up on school supplies consider this astonishing statistic. Last year in Cumberland County alone, there were nearly 900 students considered homeless. When families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, making sure that their child has enough pencils and paper to make it through the school day is a minor concern. While some kids are agonizing over wearing just the “right” backpack on the fi rst day of school, some kids are hoping they’ll have one to carry.

Started in 2007 by the Cumberland County school social workers, Stuff the Bus is an annual event to make sure that students living in shelters and transitional housing are prepared for school, easing the burden on parents and teachers. This year’s Stuff the Bus event kicks off Aug. 5 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Walmart located at 4601 Ramsey St. This is the beginning of the tax-free weekend, so all your donations can be purchased tax free.

Be sure to bring the kids! Not only will they be taking donations, but Buster the Safety School Bus will be on site. They will also have tours of the bus by Miss Fayetteville, Katie Ann Mills, and there will be information available on school-bus safety and student services. This is a great way to introduce the school bus to your child just starting school, and at the same time modeling to all your kids the importance of helping those less fortunate.

Says Pamela Story, coordinator of the event, “We currently partner with Operation Homefront of North Carolina to assist with their Backpack Brigade give-away. Since our first drive where we packed and distributed 80 new book bags fi lled with supplies, last year we stuffed and delivered 426 throughout every Cumberland County School. Our goal this year is 600. We receive a small grant through the Department of Public Instruction to identify homeless students and coordinate services for them, including school supplies, transportation, free breakfast and lunch, clothing and assistance with enrollment issues. By collecting donations, this reduces the amount of items we must purchase for our students currently living in transitional housing, emergency shelters, or in other living situations that are not permanent nighttime residences.”T

eachers and mothers alike will tell you that nothing disappears faster in the school year than pencils and paper. Like the stray sock in the dryer, those items seem to just vanish within a few weeks of school. Story says that the most needed items are backpacks, three ring binders, marble composition books, flash-drives and school uniforms, as well as plenty of paper and pencils. Remember, teachers also ask students to bring in items such as hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to help keep the classroom a safe and sanitary environment.

Not sure what to give? They will also be taking tax-deductible cash donations as well as gift cards.

If you aren’t able to drop by on Aug. 5, donations can be made at the CCS Central Services building at 2465 Gillespie St. from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. all summer long.

Know someone who might be in need? Bookbags with supplies will be made available on a fi rst-come, fi rst-served basis through each school’s social worker after Aug. 18, so be sure to contact the child’s school for more information about how to have a child identifi ed for consideration.

For more information on how you can help, contact CCS Social Work Services at 910.678.2621.

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