When 5-year-old Lexie Blair starts kindergarten on Wednesday in Shepherd, she’ll be sporting a brand-new backpack loaded with school supplies.
“Crayons, scissors, pencil box, paper, folders,” Blair said as she rattled off the contents of her backpack with help from her mom, Darcy.
While Lexie’s eyes flashed with excitement as she thought about her first day of school, her mom was especially grateful for the backpack, which came fully stocked from donors through Family Service Inc. and Rimrock Mall. Darcy Blair said she is looking for a job after several years as a stay-at-home mom.
“It’s awesome. It’s very helpful, especially when you’re in the process of looking for a job,” she said. “We use Family Service for other services and they’re very helpful.”
The Stuff the Bus campaign will provide backpacks and school supplies to 1,400 kids this year, said Family Service Director Paul Chinberg. The campaign, which features a small yellow school bus parked inside the mall, is in its 26th year.
“If a child goes to school on the first day and is not prepared, that child is a step behind for the whole year,” Chinberg said.
With a $70 backpack and a bunch more in supplies and clothing, sending a child to school can easily break a family’s budget, Chinberg said.
“It’s a very large financial impact for them,” he said.
The bus in the mall has tags on it with names of children in need. Donors can take a tag, buy the supplies listed on the tag and turn it all in at the mall. The campaign runs through this week, and has received extra help from Wells Fargo employees, Costco, Tire Rama and other businesses. Volunteers stuffed supplies into backpacks last week.