Lowell, ARK. – United Way of Northwest Arkansas and Walmart partnered with Coca-Cola to collect school supplies during the United Way Fill the Bus event Friday, July 24th and Saturday, July 25th. In addition to the two day event, 10 companies across NWA hosted their own school supply drives.
During the two day event, volunteers collected 105,978 supplies from residents of NW Arkansas and SW Missouri. In addition to supplies donated, $4,615.65 was given in monetary donations. The company-hosted school supply drives contributed 5,985 more supplies, bringing the event’s total to 111,963 supplies (valued at over $285,000).
With school about to start, United Way NWA has given supplies to schools in 17 districts (16 in Northwest Arkansas and 1 in Southwest Missouri) to support the over 46,000 children on free or reduced lunches (26,000 of those who are actually living in poverty). This is the largest impact this event has made in over ten years of existence. School counselors, nurses, teachers, and local nonprofits will take the supplies and give them to the kids in need.
The impact of this event not only extends to the children receiving the supplies, but also to the over 600 volunteers who donated their time in the heat to make a difference. A few volunteers shared with us their favorite moments from the event:
“A woman donating supplies shared a story with me of how the previous year, fill the bus helped her with school supplies when she gained custody of her niece when her sister unexpectedly passes away. With tears in her eyes she said how thankful she had been at that time and how she was thankful to be able to give back now. It touched my heart.”
“We had a very young boy (maybe 3 or 4) with his own little shopping cart who had shopped inside for school supplies and wanted to bring them to the bus himself to donate. He was precious and exemplified the true spirit of charity and giving graciously.”
Items raised at each of the ten locations will stay in that corresponding school district along with some surrounding districts. For example, supplies donated in Fayetteville will stay in the Fayetteville district in addition to some going to Farmington. Also, supplies raised in Pineville, MO will stay in McDonald County.