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"Stuff the Bus" Provides School Supplies for Needy Students in Craven County

A local non-profit is collecting school supplies during this last tax free weekend to help children in need

Back to school shopping has long been a tradition for Americans. Students are given a list of necessary materials to complete the school year. While this preparation for the first day of school can be a source of excitement for some, how do the students whose families can’t provide these items manage? Darlene Brown, the executive director of Craven County Partners in Education, has organized a fundraising event aimed at helping students in need.

“What we do is we accept donated items that the children need for school. They have identified items that the teachers and principals share with us that the children need, and the children have been identified as in need by their schools.”  

Stuff the Bus takes place on tomorrow/today from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. People are invited to literally stuff a bus full of back to school items in the Walmart parking lots in Havelock and New Bern.

“We put tubs on the buses, and people can bring what they buy onto the bus and put it into the different tubs. And then once we have everything organized we come back here to the school system and we distribute everything among the buses. We need book bags, and things like that. We take everything and we organize it by grade level because what they need in elementary school is not necessarily what they need in high school.”

Brown states that last year, around 300 students were identified as in need of assistance obtaining school supplies in the Craven County School system. Due to the popularity of the program, Brown expects the number of students to increase.

“The word is really getting out amongst the schools that this program works. I’m getting more phone calls this year than I think I did last year, and I would expect that that would easily double, considering the trying times that we live in, and the parents who are struggling just to make ends meet, and they want to do their very best for their children, and we want to give every opportunity to the children in Craven County Public Schools to have the best possible items that they can take with them. We want to make sure that they have their pencils and their highlighters and their paper when they start that first day of school, because don’t we all remember what that’s like.”

Craven County Partners in education, a non-profit organization, primarily focuses on enhancing resources within the public school system. Last year, the organization gave out $24,000 to Craven County Schools, to provide materials for students and teachers.

“So we have several different grant programs that we have throughout the year to help get money back into the schools for the teachers and the students. And what we do is we are actually a fundraising arm, since we’re a 501C3 for the Craven County Schools. So we also apply for grants out in the state, and nation- wide. We received a $10,000 Monsanto grant to build a greenhouse out in West Carven High School. Those are the kind of grants that we apply for.”

Also, the organization acquired a 2.4 million dollar Science Technology and Math grant aimed toward children whose parents are in the military. Brown says she empathizes with the nomadic lives of military students.

“I was raised in a military family and I understand the importance of helping these kids that have a tendency to move around a lot keep up with what’s going on in their schools. That’s why we are targeting these schools that have a high number of military children in their student registry.”

Craven County Partners in Education is doing many things to help a variety of students in Craven County.   If you’re interested in reaching out to students in need, you can participate in the event by donating items today/tomorrow. Donating on a tax-free weekend helps lessen the cost of donated materials. The donated items will make a direct difference in the educational experience of local students.

“Well it’s very fulfilling when you see the kids get their book-bags full of items that they were hoping they were going to get for the beginning of the school year.”

If you’d like to view a list of accepted materials, or more information on the event, you can go to www.cravenpie.com. You can also visit www.publicradioeast.org. This is Zannie Owens.

Jared Brumbaugh is the Assistant General Manager for Public Radio East. An Eastern North Carolina native, Jared began his professional public radio career at Public Radio East while he was a student at Craven Community College earning his degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. During his 15+ years at Public Radio East, he has served as an award-winning journalist, producer, and on-air host. When not at the station, Jared enjoys hiking, traveling, and honing his culinary skills.