Lakota ‘Stuff the Bus’ campaign crucial due to inflation, organizers say

Last year saw a large turnout for the annual "Stuff The Bus" donation campaign at Liberty Center and Lakota and Cincinnati Children's officials hope for even more help this month with the campaign to get school supplies to the children of needy families. NICK GRAHAM/FILE PHOTO

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Last year saw a large turnout for the annual "Stuff The Bus" donation campaign at Liberty Center and Lakota and Cincinnati Children's officials hope for even more help this month with the campaign to get school supplies to the children of needy families. NICK GRAHAM/FILE PHOTO

An annual drive to provide Lakota school students and others in need with classroom supplies is all the more urgent this time around due to inflation’s higher costs, said sponsors for the “Stuff The Bus” campaign.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Liberty Twp. works with the Lakota Local School District and other community partners each year in collecting donated learning items and later this month inviting the public to help in filling a school bus parked at the Liberty Center.

The donations go to both Lakota students and Cincinnati Children’s patient families in need.

ExploreBack to school: Volunteers stuff school bus with backpacks of donated supplies

“At Cincinnati Children’s we’re focused on the health and wellbeing of all kids,” said Michelle Hopkins, community engagement consultant for Cincinnati Children’s.

“This project goes a long way to ensure that families who need a little extra help during these tough economic times can get it. We’re especially proud to be collaborating with our community partners, emphasizing that at the end of the day we’re all in this together.”

Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for the 17,000-student Lakota school system, said the district, which includes both Liberty and West Chester townships, “is excited to once again partner with the Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Community Advisory Committee to collect supplemental school supplies for local students.”

“Committee organizations throughout West Chester and Liberty townships will be collecting items beginning July 1, leading up to the “Stuff the Bus” event at Liberty Center on July 27,” said Fuller.

Fuller echoed Hopkins in emphasizing the tougher times for low-income school families.

Adding to the financial stress for school district is the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and its sweeping and often sharp increases in school operating expenses since its onset in March 2020.

Lakota is using some of its federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) monies, provided to districts nationwide to help offset school pandemic costs, toward getting needy students learning supplies.

“We will provide our students in grades K-8 with school kits using ESSER dollars. The kits will contain most of the school supplies students will need,” said Fuller.

“COVID has certainly had a financial impact on many of our families, even beyond the 20% who are economically disadvantaged. The current state of the economy and rising prices are certainly not helping matters. We are grateful to our community members who are able to donate items to help our kids.”

The items we are collecting at locations around the community through July 26 and then at Liberty Center on July 27, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Square at Liberty Center, 7100 Foundry Way. Immediately following the event, volunteers will fill 800 backpacks with the donated items.

In addition to collecting school supplies, Cincinnati Children’s will provide free vision screenings at the July 27 event.

“We’re thrilled with the opportunity to serve the community. Getting children back in school can be a particularly tough time for families, financially. If we can help make it a little easier by providing a backpack and a few school supplies, it’s a great way to give back and pay forward,” said Hopkins.

Anyone interested in donating school supplies before the Liberty Center collection event can drop off at five locations throughout the community through July 26:

● Cincinnati Children’s Liberty location (main entrance) 7777 Yankee Rd, Liberty Township, 45044

● Liberty Township Administration Building, 5021 Winner’s Circle Dr., Liberty Township 45011

● MidPointe Library, 7100 Foundry Row, Liberty Township 45069

● Lakota Schools Central Office, 5572 Princeton Road, Liberty Township 45011

● VOA MetroPark, 7850 VOA Park Drive, West Chester 45069

Supplies needed include:

● Earbuds and headphones with an audio jack;

● Pencil pouches;

● Hand sanitizer;

● Tissues; and

● Resealable plastic bags (gallon and quart sizes).

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