Businesses and other organizations are invited to help United Way of Forsyth County collect school supplies for children in need.
The organization will hold its fifth annual Stuff the Bus supply drive from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 20 and 27 at Wal-Mart locations on Market Place Boulevard and Atlanta Highway.
In the meantime, Melissa Corliss, United Way’s director of community impact, said businesses, churches and neighborhoods are encouraged to hold their own school supply drives in support of the larger effort.
“We’ve been really lucky to have the support of our business community. We’ve had banks, UPS, Northside [Forsyth Hospital],” she said.
“A lot of businesses run their own school supply drives for us and also we receive supplies from our local Publix. They have a School Tools drive that they do and we receive some school supplies from our local stores’ drives.”
Corliss said support for the effort also comes from organizations such as churches and civic clubs.
“We’ve even had kids do collections in their neighborhoods, so it’s something that everybody can get involved in and we just really have enjoyed wonderful community support for this program.”
Last year, the event gathered some 17,000 items for local children in need. In 2011, 13,000 items were collected.
“It really has grown year after year,” Corliss said. “We’ve had many of the same groups want to come back and do this year after year, but then we also grow it.
“There’s always another business or Sunday school class or school group that wants to get involved.”
Corliss said any organization that would like to help can contact her at the United Way office.
People who would like to participate can bring items to the Stuff the Bus events on July 20 and 27, which do feature bright yellow school buses in the parking lots.
“That brings a lot of visibility for us in the community,” Corliss said.
If they can’t make it those days, donations can also be dropped off any time during normal business hours to the United Way Office, 240 Elm St.
Traditional items such as No. 2 pencils, rulers, three-ring binders, and crayons are needed, as are more modern supplies including graph paper and flash drives.
A full list can be found on the United Way’s Web site, www.unitedwayforsyth.com.
All items collected will go to The Place of Forsyth County, which holds a distribution for families in need the Saturday prior to the first day of school, which this year for Forsyth County Schools will be Aug. 8.
In addition, many items go to school social workers to ensure local students have what they need throughout the year.
Corliss said she hopes the drive continues to grow.
“It’s one of those things that you never know from year to year what’s going to come in, but you always hope it grows,” she said. “We’d love to have new organizations, businesses and individuals get involved every year.”