This summer The Salvation Army teamed up with Walmart to collect school supplies for children in need during the first nationwide “Stuff the Bus” campaign.
Salvation Army staff and volunteers accepted donations outside nearly 3,000 Walmart stores, including more than 600 in the Central Territory, on August 3 for this one-day event. Items gathered included backpacks, pencils, folders and binders which individual students need, as well as items like hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes and boxes of tissues that they’re expected to contribute to their classrooms. After the event, supplies were sorted and prepared for distribution to local families.
“Stuff the Bus helped families from a financial standpoint by offsetting the expenses associated with back-to-school time,” said Major Alan Wurtz, who led the Central Territory’s efforts. “Students were equipped and prepared to be successful as they moved into a new school year.”
Besides gathering school supplies as in-kind donations, corps were able to set up a red kettle to collect cash contributions which could be used to purchase additional items to supplement donations or for general assistance to families.
Captain Rich Forney reported a great response in Aurora, Ill. “It was a beautiful day that allowed people to help our neighbors in need. It also gave us the privilege of sharing about the ongoing services and ministry opportunities our corps provides for families.”
In preparation for the collaborative event, corps and service extension units were able to create an online Walmart registry of school supplies for community members to review prior to shopping. This allowed them to select preferred brands and items based on local school supply requirements and helped ensure a variety of materials were donated. Donors also were able to order supplies online and have them shipped directly to a participating corps or unit.
“The value of this collaboration is incredible,” concluded the major. “Not only are corps assisting families with an immediate need, but it’s also paving the way for future collaborative efforts.”