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Stuff the Bus in East Franklin Saturday

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Donations of money and school supplies for Armstrong County students can be made from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Wal-Mart in East Franklin's Hilltop Plaza shopping center.

Families can register to receive one backpack of school supplies per child by visiting the Kittanning Salvation Army at 205 South Jefferson St., or by calling 724-543-6622.

Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:56 a.m.
 

With the first day of school just under a month away, two nonprofits are getting ready to send Armstrong County students back to class loaded with supplies.

The Kittanning Salvation Army and New Life Center in Ford City are collecting donations during the fifth annual Stuff the Bus event on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the East Franklin Wal-Mart.

Volunteers will man a school bus both days to collect donations of money and supplies like pencils, pens, folders, crayons, scissors, glue sticks, markers and notebooks, said Lt. Amber Imhoff of the Kittanning Salvation Army.

Supplies collected will be used to fill at least 500 backpacks that will be given to students in pre-school through fifth grade during the Back 2 School Bash on Aug. 16 in Ford City Park.

“Our goal is to get kids back in school with their supplies so they can focus more on their lessons instead of what they may or may not have,” Imhoff said.

The groups have seen the number of children in need growing each year. Last year, the groups supplied 500 backpacks, which was up from 440 in 2012, said Tara Garris, outreach coordinator at the New Life Center.

“Parents have to worry about so much other than supplies to make sure their kids are ready for school and to keep clothes on their backs,” Garris said. “Things just aren't cheap anymore. The need is going to keep growing as costs go up.”

As of Wednesday, 200 children registered to receive backpacks. Registration remains open until Aug. 3.

Last year, donations fell short, and the groups had to spend $6,000 to buy enough supplies to fill all the backpacks.

“We collected a good portion at the bus but didn't quite collect as much as we ended up needing,” Imhoff said.

To increase chances of reaching the goal this year, volunteers with fliers and donation kettles will be stationed at both Wal-Mart entrances in addition to the bus.

“An event like this is something this community really needs because school supplies can really become a large expense for families,” Imhoff said. “We hope to collect everything we need so we won't have to purchase supplies and can use our funds for other things ... like clothing and shoes for kids with an extreme need.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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