United Way's first public event for Stuff the Bus for Education, which gathers school supplies and donations to donate to the Hamilton County PTA Teacher Supply Depot, will be held Aug. 3-4 at Hamilton Place Mall.
About 25 percent of Hamilton County public school students live at or below poverty level. That means many area students lack the supplies they need to go back to school prepared for success. Citizens can directly help these children start off the school year on the right foot by donating to the third annual Stuff the Bus initiative.
In 2011, $15,000 in supplies were collected and donated to the Hamilton County PTA Teacher Supply Depot, which is a 501(c)(3) organization. The 2012 goal is to collect $40,000 in school supplies.
"We've seen research that shows the average public school teacher spends $1,200 of his or her money every year—not reimbursed—on students’ needs and classroom supplies," said Eva Dillard, United Way CEO. "Because we know education is the key to lifetime success, we want students to have the school supplies they need, and their teachers are the best way to get those supplies to them. We also want these supplies to be available to teachers and students all year long, not just when school starts."
United Way and the Hamilton County PTA Teacher Supply Depot are asking people to host school supply drives at their businesses, schools and places of worship or to just donate school supplies at a participating drop-off events or locations. By clicking here, you can download posters, supply lists and other templates to help organize a drive.
Any Hamilton County public school teacher who is a member of a Hamilton County public school PTA can shop at the Hamilton County PTA Teacher Supply Depot to receive school supplies at no cost.
The list of Stuff the Bus partners has grown this year, officials said. Joining longtime sponsor Publix are Walgreens, Top Flight, Office Depot, Applebee's, the Social Media Alliance of Chattanooga, Chattanooga Elks Lodge #91 in East Brainerd, Hamilton Place Mall, CBL & Associates, and the Chattanooga Market.
"Walgreens is a leader in the drug industry, and we also want to be seen as a leader in our community, not only when it comes to health and wellness but also when it comes to education," said Mike Tallman, Walgreens community leader. "Many Hamilton County public school teachers end up buying school supplies with their own money because some of their students cannot afford to buy school supplies or pay the school supply fee. Walgreens wants to help Hamilton County public school students and teachers have the school supplies they need to start the school year off right."
Tallman is also a member of the East Ridge Chamber of Commerce Council and invites businesses interested in holding a drive to contact him at 423-624-6854 to inquire about picking up a collection barrel.
The following is a list of current collection locations, events, dates and times:
—All Walgreens stores in Hamilton County are collecting supplies through Saturday, Aug. 18. Just look for the collection barrels near the store entrance.
—All Publix stores in Hamilton County are collecting supplies through Sunday, Aug. 12. Just look for the school supply bags near the checkout lines.
—Hamilton Place Mall, Aug. 3-4, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. United Way volunteers will be selling slices of a 25-square-foot cookie donated by the American Cookie Company ($5 per slice).
—The Chattanooga Market, Sunday, Aug. 19, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
—United Way's Campaign Kickoff Luncheon at the Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
—Hamilton County PTA Teacher Supply Depot, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (2225 Roanoke Ave.). For more information, click here.
—United Way offices, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (630 Market St.)
Other locations, times and events may be announced.
Because students' supply needs don't end when school begins, Stuff the Bus will be continued through October.
Lists for needed supplies by grade level can be found here. You may also make cash donations to United Way for the purchase of school supplies. Any amount is welcome, and all donations are tax deductible.
Please contact United Way at 423-752-0300 or visit their website for continuing updates.