Stuff the Bus!

Cary Ashby • Jul 28, 2017 at 10:00 PM

It’s time to stuff the bus again.

Project Leadership of Huron County will accept school supplies and donations from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Norwalk City Schools board of education office, 134 Benedict Ave. Project Leadership of Huron County will accept school supplies and donations for needy children in the district and Norwalk Catholic School.

Parents are asked to register from 10 a.m. until noon Monday or from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at The Salvation Army, 55 Whittlesey Ave., so that book bags will be packed with the required items for each grade level. 

Retired educators Judy Sommers, Reta Stark and Virginia Poling, who was the Norwalk superintendent, founded the local Stuff the Bus program eight years ago. Sommers was a Norwalk High School counselor and served the district for 21 of her 30 years in education.

Stark said it’s all about helping children and “giving them a good start.” She served the district for 25 years as a librarian at Norwalk Middle and the elementary schools.

“We know many people who come to school without supplies,” said Stark, who served four school systems during her 36 years in education.  

“You have to start out the school year right and be prepared,” added Maddy Largent, who has made Stuff the Bus her St. Paul senior project with Francesca Holmes.

Largent said she and Holmes “just want to help people in need.” Largent was inspired after seeing similar programs covered by Cleveland TV stations. 

“We want them prepared for school,” she added.

Holmes said she and Largent know people in the community can use help with getting school supplies. “It’s nice to give back to them,” Holmes added. 

Distribution of the school supplies to eligible children will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Salvation Army building on Whittlesey Avenue. 

This year’s Stuff the Bus committee includes: Largent, Holmes, Sommers, Stark, Valerie French, Carol Phillips, Angie Smith and Nicole Jones, vice president of marketing for Firelands Federal Credit Union.

Firelands Federal Credit Union is in its fourth year participating in the program. 

“We do a skip-a-payment loan promotion,” Jones said. “As part of that, we donate back to Stuff the Bus.”

Firelands clients pay a fine to skip a loan payment for one month. Jones estimated that the credit union donates $2,500 each year.

“We have five branches; we do it all in five branches,” she added.

Last year, more than 300 children received school supplies and some local preschools also got supplies for their classrooms. 

“Three hundred would probably be the (annual) average,” Sommers said.

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