Local nonprofit helps reduce back-to-school costs

WABASH VALLEY, Indiana (WAWV/WTWO) – United Way has partnered with 7 local school corporations for another year of the Stuff the Virtual Bus program.

The Collaborative Giving Campaign has long provided equal learning opportunities for students in the Wabash Valley.

“We’ve been doing stuff on the bus for over 20 years,” said Abby Desboro, director of marketing and communications. “Usually it was a bus in front of a real Walmart for an afternoon, but when covid-19 hit, we kind of made it virtual.”

The organization has decided to keep it virtual this year to make donations easier and easier. Desboro said this program is important to the organization’s overall initiative.

“We’re working to lift 10,000 families out of financial hardship and instability, and one of those things is youth success,” Desboro said. “Ensuring children come to school prepared and ready to learn makes a difference.”

South Vermillion School Corporation is one of the districts that has partnered with United Way for this year’s school supply donation campaign. With just over 1,600 students in the society, Ernie Pyle Elementary School principal Kim Kesler estimates that half of those students will benefit from the program in some way.

“As we all know, the price of everything is going up and it’s adding stress to families,” Kesler said. “Back to school errands can get pretty overwhelming when it involves everything you have to buy the clothes, the shoes, the backpack, the school supplies, the tuition.”

Desboro and Kesler say virtual donation will provide many benefits.

“We have a better way to track and see what people have purchased and put on the bus,” Desboro said.

“We’re pretty excited about the virtual option this year,” Kesler said. “It also allows our donors to support us in ways they haven’t been able to before.”

To donate, you can visit their website.