United Way close to its goal for Stuff the Bus event

United Way Executive Director Nicole Mader collects donated backpacks with school supplies, Monday, for Geary County children in need.

While the next school year is shrouded in uncertainty, United Way of Junction City/Geary County feels Unified School District 475 students will still need school supplies for the coming semester.

The local nonprofit’s 11th annual Stuff the Bus has begun, in the hopes that regardless of what happens in the final months of 2020, Junction City’s students will have the school supplies they need to make it through the semester.

United Way and USD 475 are asking local people to donate school supplies to assist students within the district whose families may not be able to provide them what they need to start the school year off right.

This is the time of year when families begin purchasing necessary school supplies such as paper, pencils, and glue. These expenses may seem small individually, but they can add up. A family can easily spend $50 per child — if not more — just on basic school supplies. Coupled with other back-to-school expenses such as clothes and shoes and with day-to-day expenses such as food, back-to-school time can be costly for families.

Some families can’t swing it no matter how hard they try, which is why United Way chooses to help out.

Because of COVID-19, the campaign will be a little different this year.

In the past, volunteers have come out to local retailers on Saturdays to solicit donations from members of the public.

This year, to keep everyone safe from the virus, there will only be drop off locations throughout the city.

The adopt-a-backpack program will also take place alongside Stuff the Bus this year as it has in the past. There will be displays promoting the adopt-a-backpack program at both Dillons, Geary Community Hospital.

From these displays and from the United Way Office, people can select a paper backpack with a child’s back-to-school shopping list and then purchase those items. Adopted backpacks can be dropped off at the United Way office or KS State Bank. They must be returned by Aug. 7.

To apply to the adopt-a-backpack program, families in need of assistance may visit www.unitedwayjcgc.org and apply for backpacks for their children. Families will be able to pick up their backpacks the week of Aug. 10, before the first day of school.

In addition to backpacks, basic school supply donations are still being accepted. Donations can be dropped at Dillons, Geary Community Hospital (where COVID-19 restrictions still apply), Central National Bank including branches at Walmart, Ash Street and 77, and Eighth and Washington Streets, Intrust Bank, State Farm – Karen Jameson, KS State Bank, the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library, Exchange Bank, the Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce, Sunflower Bank.

Those who would like to contribute but have no desire to shop for school supplies are welcome to make financial contributions to the cause. All funds donated to this cause will be spent on the cause itself. They will be used to purchase additional school supplies. Checks should be made to United Way with “Stuff the Bus” written on the memo line. They can be mailed to United Way, P O Box 567, Junction City, KS 66441. Online donations are also an option and can be made through our website or by Text-To-Give: Text UWJCGCSTB to 44-321.

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