Fill the Bus wrapped up on July 25th but the impact of the event had only just begun. School supplies are distributed mostly through the schools through nurses and counselors that recognize the children in need. However, there are a few other ways the supplies from Fill the Bus are distributed. The Manna Center in Siloam Springs and the Samaritan Community Center both have backpack distributions which we donate supplies to. Another way the supplies are distributed is through the Farmington Back to School Bonanza hosted by the United Methodist Church in Farmington.
I had the opportunity to go to the Back to School Bonanza to see what impact they were making. I was amazed. It’s one thing to know that you are collecting supplies for childten in need, but to see the happiness on the children’s faces when they get them is a whole other experience. Not only does the Back to School Bonanza give out backpacks and supplies to over 600 kids, they also provide school shoes, haircuts, dental and vision screenings and kindergarten physicals. They do this all for free!
“My favorite part of volunteering at the Back to School Bonanza is just the joy that I see on the children’s faces whenever they receive their new stuff and then later on I see them in school because I’m a teacher as well,” said Mary Jane, who helps to coordinate the event.
One of my favorite moments was when a boy no older than 5 or 6 was getting a new pair of shoes and literally squealed with excitement. He wouldn’t take them off and next to him there was a very torn up pair of shoes. It was a humbling moment that brought on a lot of emotion for me.The impact this program has on families is as evident on the parents’ faces as the excitement is on the children’s faces. I had the opportunity to speak with a few of the parents while they were waiting to be called on. I asked what kind of impact this program makes on each of their families.
“It’s big because that way you can concentrate on the other stuff instead of having to buy this stuff first,” said Priscilla Lemons, a mother of two.
“You know it’s a big help because we have six kids that will be in school this year and sometimes I can’t afford all of the necessities,” said another mother of six young boys.
We raised over 100,000 supplies with Fill the Bus and that impact is powerful but to see and hear from the people you are impacting is even more powerful. I hope that those that donated to Fill the Bus understand the true impact they are making on families right here in Northwest Arkansas and how grateful these families are for your generosity.
-Kayleigh Cooper, Graphic Designer