More than 80 local teachers have new school supplies for the year thanks to United Way of Isabella County’s Stuff the Bus campaign Wednesday.
Beginning at noon, United Way Executive Director Tom Olver and several volunteers traveled to five Mount Pleasant schools in a bus filled with roughly 7,000 items, including tissues, crayons, scissors and hand sanitizer. Nearly 50 local businesses served as collection sites for the school supply drive, which began in early August.
“We interacted with over 80 teachers today and distributed more than 7,000 items worth about $7,000,” Olver said. “And that’s a little tip of the iceberg, because we’ve got more that’s going out.”
Additional school supplies have yet to be presented to Renaissance Academy, Mount Pleasant High School, the Community Compassion Network and several local churches, bringing the total of donated items to nearly 12,000.
“There are a lot of schools that could use our help,” Olver said. “Not only at the elementary level, but the intermediate level and the high school level.”
In addition to the Stuff the Bus campaign, United Way hosts a Campaign Kick-Off beginning Sept. 7, with a community goal of $450,000. Their adopt-a-family program takes place in November, followed by a day of service in the spring.
Leadership Institute Director and fellow trustee Dan Gaken said having these set programs has helped the organization to better focus its efforts when it comes to the community.
“United Way has always done lots of big things for this community,” Gaken said. “Without asking people to give more or do more, we’re going to have an impact that’s exponentially larger.”
Gaken, who joined United Way shortly after Olver in 2012, not only helped with soliciting donations from the community but also keeps a photo record of each event in case it is not covered by outside sources.
Besides being an aid to the community, United Way also provides service opportunities to community members and Central Michigan University students. St. Clair Shores junior Drew Wilson found that volunteering with United Way was a rewarding experience.
“I plan to continue volunteering with United Way, because I think it’s a great organization for the community,” Wilson said.
Wilson discovered the volunteer opportunity when Olver posted on his fraternity page, of which he is an alum, with information about the event. Wilson will also be using the hours of service toward his volunteer requirement to graduate from the CMU Honors Program.