Sanford’s Stuff the Bus program which makes sure kids — and teachers — get school supplies they need for the upcoming season, is marking its 10th year. The bus will be at Sanford Walmart Friday and Saturday for those who’d like to help. Folks in Sanford and  surrounding communities  who would like to register to receive school supplies may do so at: http://stuffthebus.me/sign-up/.  Folks must register by Aug. 15. COURTESY PHOTO

Sanford’s Stuff the Bus program which makes sure kids — and teachers — get school supplies they need for the upcoming season, is marking its 10th year. The bus will be at Sanford Walmart Friday and Saturday for those who’d like to help. Folks in Sanford and surrounding communities who would like to register to receive school supplies may do so at: http://stuffthebus.me/sign-up/. Folks must register by Aug. 15. COURTESY PHOTO

SANFORD — In a little less than a month, students — and teachers — will be headed back to school. 

In order to be ready, they need supplies — everything from binders to ruled paper, to No. 2 pencils and protractors.

That is where Stuff the Bus comes in. It is a program designed for families who would be otherwise hard-pressed to buy back-to-school supplies for their kids. And because teachers often dip into their own finances for classroom supplies, they’re invited too. It is open to Sanford residents and those from surrounding communities, like Alfred, Waterboro, Newfield and Shapleigh.

Folks who want to help can do so by Friday and Saturday, where the bus to be stuffed with school supplies will be outside Walmart on Main Street in south Sanford from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Director Wanda Parent and her team of volunteers from Jobs for Maine Graduates and Key Club, among others, will be on hand to accept donations of school supplies or a financial donation.

Folks who want to sign must do so by Aug. 15 online at: http://stuffthebus.me/sign-up/. Parent pointed out that families must use a computer to sign up. If they don’t have one, they can use a public computer at a local library or ask a friend for help, said Parent. Folks who register will be emailed with a time to show up at Curtis Lake Church on Westview Drive, where the distribution will be held.

Parents must bring their children, and kids do, the shopping, accompanied by a personal shopper volunteer — usually from one of the service clubs.

“We want kids to feel empowered,” said Parent of the shopping method she devised years ago. This way, kids can choose the color or design from an array of backpacks, pencils, binders and other supplies. “They go from table to table and choose their own supplies.”

Superintendent David Theoharides called Stuff the Bus a great program, for kids and for teachers. He said the shopping method devised by Parent makes children feel valued. And for some, he said “it’s like Christmas.”

“Our teachers benefit greatly from Stuff the Bus,” said Theoharides. “It supplements our limited school budget by providing teachers with additional classroom supplies. Often teachers will pay for many of these supplies out of their own pockets.”

He called the program  a blessing for the district’s neediest students. 

“It helps them be more successful by providing them with the supplies and tools they need for school,” he said.

Parent said there are 525 slots so far, with 40 kids scheduled to “shop” for their school supplies every 15 minutes.

This is the 10th year of the program. In its first year, 100 youngsters were served.

In 2016, 3,000 children, directly or indirectly were helped through the program, said Parent.

She said Marc Motors has been named Supporter of the Year for 2017. The car dealer donates a backpack for every car sold in July and August, said Parent — that typically amounts to 80 to 100 —  and sponsored a “teacher table” at the Stuff the bus distribution to the tune of $1,000 in 2016. This year,  she said, they’ve donated $1,500 to help buy supplies for the teacher table.

Donations are many and varied. The Altrusa table sponsors a calculator table, and Warren’s Office Supplies provides scientific calculators, whichare available for junior and high school students, among other items.

The wish list? Well, said Parent, there’s always a need for more 3-ring binders and the college-ruled paper that goes inside them. They can always use more scissors, compasses and protractors — and fat crayons and pencils for kindergarten kids’ little fingers to grasp.

 For more information, go to their web page or their Facebook page at Stuff the Bus Maine.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

 


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