GIPS Holds Stuff the Bus to Raise School Supplies for Families

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- It's August which for some parents means time for school shopping. But in Grand Island some can't afford school supplies so the public school system is helping out.

This is the 14th year for Grand Island Public Schools' Stuff The Bus.

There are buses at every location but supplies don't actually go in them. Organizers found the inside would get too hot and ruin the supplies.

So instead dozens of shopping carts were overflowing with schools supplies, all to be given to families who can't afford them before the start of the school year.

"I think more than anything it's relief that they feel because it's a lot of pressure and it's a lot of stress on families to reach that financial burden and so to know that their kids are taken care of and that they don't have to put themselves in debt or use credit or anything like that and still be able to provide for their kids and give them the education that they need," said Shannon Smith, a Case Manager for Hope Harbor who was volunteering at one location.

According to GIPS having the right supplies is crucial to the success for their students.

"Without the proper tools, it's harder to do the job and I feel every child deserves to have that tablet of clean paper waiting to have words jump on it or the smell of a fresh box of crayons," said Verna Haberman, the GIPS Outreach Coordinator who organizes Stuff the Buss. "Education's a very exciting world to be in and when you've got the right tools, learning is fun."

While Grand Island students couldn't go to school without these supplies, the message of Stuff the Bus couldn't get spread if it wasn't for the volunteers from the different organizations around Grand Island stationed at each collection point.

Haberman said, "Any place I've got a volunteer standing I get better and bigger donations than I do when I just got my cart there."

"We got involved with it and helped out because we work with a lot of students who are in need of school supplies as well over at Boys Town," said Para Educator and Youth Care Worker at Boys Town.

Peace Lutheran Church member Amanda Mehyer added, "We just know that education is important and we, as a church, want to help our community and just be a part of it and show people that we care."

And to GIPS, all the donations speak to the character of Grand Island.

"I'm never a want or have a need," said Haberman. "The community always steps to the plate because I believe our community believes in children and believes in education."

Although volunteers won't be out Saturday and Sunday, people can continue to make donations at the Grand Island Walmarts and Shopko leading up to the distribution.

"We're going to have distribution at the Neal Administration Building on Tuesday and it will be at door H that clients will be able to come," said Haberman. "They'll need to bring a referral slip from one of the agencies that they're working with so that they have a case manager so we just have that as a voucher knowing that they are truly in need."