June 14, 2018

Back-to-school costs can be challenging, even for families not already struggling financially. For families that are struggling, the costs can be crippling.

The annual Stuff the Bus school supply donation drive— a collaboration among United Way of Williamson County’s Patricia Hart Society, Publix Super Markets, GraceWorks Ministries, GM Spring Hill Manufacturing, UAW, UPS, FirstFleet, Harpeth Christian Church, and other dedicated community organizations and churches— aims to ease this financial burden.

“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.”

According to Deloitte’s 2017 Back-to-School Survey, the national back-to-school spending average is $501 per student, which includes the cost of supplies, clothing, and technology. However, spending averages are highest across southern states, where parents spend an average of $554 per child.

For families with multiple school-age children, back-to-school expenses and fees could easily cost thousands of dollars. When a family is already struggling financially, this could mean household bills falling by the wayside, skimping on groceries, or sending students to school without the needed tools.

None of these scenarios are ideal for a student’s academic success.

Stuff the Bus aims to accelerate learning and education by ensuring that students do not have to worry about whether they have adequate school supplies. Instead, students can focus on learning.

United Way of Williamson County will distribute school supplies to students from grades K–12 during two Backpack Giveaway events on Saturday, August 4, 2018. The Backpack Giveaways will be held from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at Fairview High School (the Hwy. 100 side of the school, 2595 Fairview Blvd., Fairview, TN) and from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the school grounds of Liberty Elementary (600 Liberty Pike, Franklin, TN). Both giveaway locations will feature free, family-friendly activities.

In 2017, Stuff the Bus provided 1,681 backpacks filled with supplies with an estimated value of $95,511.

Items particularly needed for this year’s donation drive include composition books, glue sticks, index cards, and highlighters.

Community members can deliver school supply donations to the United Way of Williamson County office located at 209 Gothic Court, Suite 107 in Franklin during normal business hours. The Stuff the Bus team also welcomes pre-event and event-day volunteers. Volunteer sign-up is available online at www.uwwc.org.

Clubs or employers interested in workplace initiatives that support Stuff the Bus should contact Debby Rainey at drainey@uwwc.org or 615-771-2312, ext. 13.

About United Way of Williamson County

United Way of Williamson County is committed to creating real change and measurable improvements in the day-to-day lives of thousands of people. We bring together people, companies and organizations from across our local community to identify and support solutions to our most critical issues. Serving Williamson County for 57 years, United Way of Williamson County fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community. Because change doesn’t happen alone. To live better, we must Live United. To find out more, please visit uwwc.org or call 615-771-2312.