(HELENA) A donation drive that collects school supplies for Helena-area students in need will officially kick off on Monday.
The Angel Fund’s 13th annual Stuff the Bus drive will run through Aug. 12. Each year, organizers try to fill up a school bus with all the supplies students would need for the year – from pens, pencils and notebooks to backpacks and calculators.
“The bus is usually stuffed to the brim,” said Janet Riis, who chairs the Angel Fund board.
Once the drive is over, coordinators at several dozen local schools will distribute the supplies.
School supplies can be expensive. The Angel Fund estimates one child’s supplies can cost an average of $70 to $80 per year in elementary school and $90 to $100 per year in middle and high school. Riis said this drive helps level the playing field for all students.
“School supplies are so important to academic success, and some families, unfortunately, need to decide between buying your school clothes and your school supplies and maybe extracurricular activities,” she said.
Organizers say it’s important that each student has the supplies they need at the start of the school year, so they don’t fall behind.
Each year, the Stuff the Bus drive supports about 1,300 students. The participating schools include Helena Public Schools, East Helena Public Schools, Lincoln Public Schools, Canyon Creek School, Wolf Creek School, Townsend Public Schools, Montana City School, Clancy School, Basin School and Boulder School, as well as First Lutheran School, Helena Christian School and St. Andrew School in Helena.
If families need supplies, they can contact the coordinator for their school, a week before classes start. You can find contact information for those coordinators – along with full lists of the supplies organizers are collecting and about 80 sites where they can be dropped off – at the Angel Fund website.
The Angel Fund also accepts monetary donations for the Stuff the Bus drive.
Riis said organizers are grateful for everyone who supports the drive.
“The community really comes out to help Stuff the Bus and Angel Fund every year,” she said.