Shared by: Julie Smitt, Sarah Hanks, Suzy Scott, Shannon Focht, Sandra Woodrow
A routine brainstorming session of the Pullman Kiwanis Club in January turned into a project that exploded into a back-to-school community success.
The club’s board immediately dove head-first into organizing a late-summer Stuff the Bus project, aimed to donate school supplies, backpacks and other needed materials for students headed to class in the Pullman School District. Members of the club collaborated with Pullman Child Welfare and business owner Charlene Jasper, who originated the idea.
Two yellow buses were donated by the school district to be visual drop-offs for donations and club members worked to get the word out about the August event.
"This was an idea that kind of bubbled to the top, and everyone got excited about it," said Kiwanis Board Member Sandra Woodrow, who led the project. "This is something that was so needed."
Woodrow added that due to the national economic slump, some families are struggling to get by. In the Pullman School District alone, about 20 percent of the students are on reduced lunches. Volunteered manned the buses, parked in two visual locations around town and waited to see their first-year project pay off. Woodrow said the community came out right away to show support.
"They’d say, ‘oh, you’re collecting school supplies? I’ll go to the store. I’ll be back.’ And they did … The whole community really rallied around it," Woodrow said.
The project resulted in 130 backpacks filled with supplies, 27 computer flash drives, 31 gift cards and 4,500 individual items including pencils, paper, rulers, crayons, markers and scissors, along with numerous cash donations. All of the items were sorted and delivered by Kiwanis members to the school district the next day.
Pullman School Board Member Susan Weed, who was a Stuff the Bus liaison between the district and the Kiwanis Club, said the list of needed back-to-school materials for each student can be a big expense to some parents.
"This made such a big difference. It was so much more than expected," Weed said. "People in the district are still talking about it. It's just marvelous to have this much community support."
Woodrow said the club is already planning for the Stuff the Bus in 2010 based its success.
"I didn’t know what I expected, but it exceeded any expectations I may have had," she said. "It’s not a vague project. People can relate to it: It’s about kids. This may become a permanent project for the Kiwanis Club."