The Life Enrichment Team and Zaxby’s collected more than 3,000 items in their first midyear Stuff the Bus school supply drive Saturday.
From backpack to crayons, and erasers to pencil pouches, community donors contributed supplies that were driven Monday to each of the Butts County School System’s five schools to be distributed.
“We were very happy with our turnout, especially with it being the first year,” Ann-Marie Pope, executive director of the Life Enrichment Team, said. “We are already planning to make this an annual event and look forward to watching it continue to grow from year to year.”
The idea for a midyear school supply drive came from Zaxby’s co-owner Shawn Goelz.
“Shawn actually came to me with this idea, about wanting to replenish our school supplies with enough to get them through the rest of the year,” Pope said. “I thought it was a great idea.”
Pope noted that the Stuff the Bus event was meant to help supplement the Back to School Bash held each year at the start of the school year. In that event, parents or guardians of students in Butts County schools can bring their student to a central location to receive a range of school supplies donated by community sponsors. The 2019 Back to School Bash has been set for July 20, and organizers are already working to secure donated supplies.
“We’ve always been involved with the schools,” Goelz said Saturday. “Ever since we came here, our first initial thought was, we just need to be involved with the schools. We know how important education is. It’s the foundation to what our community is going to be. We’ve got to invest in the kids.”
In addition to several members of the Jackson High School HOSA Future Health Professionals student group, Saturday’s event was also staffed by adult volunteers, including Henderson Middle School teacher Paden Oldham.
Pope said two Butts County Board of Education members — Mamie Ruth Crawford and Kelly Strickland Raney — also stopped by to donate supplies to the event, as did members of the iClub, an after-school program of the Butts County Counseling Center.
Goelz said he’d seen similar Stuff the Bus programs in other communities and thought it would be a benefit to Butts County schools and their students.
“It just seemed like a great idea to do, and why reinvent the wheel?” he said.