It may be just the first of July, but public schools resume less than six weeks from now, on Aug. 10.
Back-to- school costs can be challenging, even for families not already struggling financially – for families that are struggling, they can be crippling.
So several nonprofits, including the United Way of Williamson County and GraceWorks Ministries, as well as Publix, Westview United Methodist Church in Fairview and Bethesda United Methodist Church in southeastern Williamson County are collaborating in the “Stuff the Bus” campaign to help families cope.
According to the Huntington Backpack Index, the average cost of school supplies for one elementary student in 2016 was $195.62, and that number jumped to $327.43 for a middle school student and $374.01 for a high school student.
And these costs don’t include clothing, fees or most technology-related expenses.
“Any parent can tell you how expensive it is to equip their children for the school year,” said Debby Rainey, vice president of Strategic Initiatives for United Way of Williamson County. “You look at the cost of a pack of crayons or a spiral notebook and it doesn’t seem too bad, but when you add up all the little expenses – and multiply that by each child – it becomes a different story.”
GraceWorks is working with the community partners and the public to fill 2,400 backpacks.
Still needed are 1-to- 2-inch three-ring binders and composition books. Cash donations are also welcome and will allow organizers to purchase required supplies that have not been donated.
On Aug. 5, GraceWorks, in collaboration with other groups and agencies, will distribute backpacks filled with school supplies at the 2017 Big Backpack Giveaway to help students in need.
The Big Backpack Giveaway will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Liberty Elementary, 600 Liberty Pike, and will include music, food and fun for the entire family. Children are required to be present to receive backpacks.
GraceWorks West will offer a backpack giveaway the same day in Fairview, but the time and location have not been set.
Another giveaway will take place at Bethesda United Methodist Church.
“Receiving a backpack filled with the tools needed to succeed in school can be a life-changing experience,” said Brian Myers, church and community relations manager for GraceWorks.
“Helping provide necessary school supplies to Williamson County students in need equips them to have a successful school year. Please help us put backpacks and supplies in the hands of these students.”
The event has been sponsored by area churches, civic groups, businesses and individuals for 14 years.
Volunteers are also needed to help during this event. Those interested can visit signup.com/go/xMEjSun to sign up.
Purchasing the backpacks themselves has been made possible by a $4,300 grant from the Nashville Predators and generous individual donations to The Big Payback, presented by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Supplies can be dropped off at GraceWorks by July 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Cash donations can be sent to GraceWorks Ministries, 104 Southeast Parkway, Franklin, TN 37064. Please put “backpacks” in the subject line of checks. You may also donate online quickly and securely by clicking the DONATE button at www.graceworksministries.net. Please choose the backpack option for your donation.
Donations also can be dropped off at United Way of Williamson County’s office, located at 209 Gothic Court, Suite 107, in Franklin, during normal business hours.
Clubs or employers interested in hosting a donation drive in support of Stuff the Bus may contact Debby Rainey at email@example.com or 615-771- 2312, ext. 13.