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United Way asks community to purchase, donate supplies
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Davis White puts school supplies into a school bus Tuesday as people drop off supplies for the United Way “Stuff the Bus” program. - photo by Tom Reed

Get Involved

What: School Tools for Cool Kids
When: Through Aug. 2
How: Purchase extra school supplies and drop them off at United Way of Hall County or any Hall County library branch, or shop at Publix and purchase a pre-packaged school supply bag. Publix will handle the delivery.
Suggested School Supplies: Back packs, pencils, pens, paper, crayons, glue, rulers, tissues. Additional suggestions can be found at United Way of Hall County.

Pens, paper, notebooks and folders are standard purchases for parents getting ready to send their kids back to school in August — but United Way of Hall County is asking for a little more.

United Way’s School Tools for Cool Kids program asks community members to purchase extra school supplies and drop them off at the United Way offices or any Hall County library branch.

“Most people can afford a pack of pencils, and it feels so good to help a child,” said Lisa McKinney, who is handling the library’s side of the operation.

Participants also can buy a pre-packaged stock of supplies at Publix. Publix will then deliver the donation to the appropriate center.

Tuesday morning, representatives from local companies gathered at the Boy Scout cabin behind First Baptist Church to “stuff the bus” with school supplies and act as an example for the community.

The companies are participants in United Way’s Cornerstone Campaign, an initiative that lays the foundation for fall fundraising efforts.

This year, the goal for the Cornerstone Campaign is $445,000. Participating companies run their campaigns during August to try to achieve that goal, Cornerstone Campaign Chairman Reese Daniel said.

He said the companies get creative in their efforts, with events such as chilli cookoffs or art auctions.

Daniel said he hopes the companies “stuffing the bus” will inspire local residents to do the same through the school tools program.

Donated materials will be given to local school systems, and schools will distribute them appropriately.

For Adrian Mixson, it was only natural for the library to be a part of the effort.

“If you come to the library, there’s some kind of a safe assumption that you’re literate and supporting education and schools and wanting to see other kids become successful as well,” he said.

McKinney said the library is a place students come for homework help, research and fun. Now, the community can help those students succeed. And organizers agree that this year, the program will be especially important.

“We know that a lot of parents are struggling right now,” said Jackie Wallace, United Way president. “It’s very costly to buy the supplies that students need to go back to school.”

McKinney had a similar perspective.

“Most people in our community are going through hard times,” she said “But it still feels good to help somebody who needs it, to help a child get a better education.”

And Wallace said that would help the community as a whole.

“If a child is successful in school, then we all win,” Wallace said. “They go on to become productive citizens and give back to their community. We just know that it’s a benefit for all of us when our children succeed.”

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