United Way of Northwest Louisiana is seeking help from volunteers and donations of new school supplies for its annual United Way Fill the Bus School Supply Drive. This allows children to start the new school year with the basic tools needed for success in school. Last year, with the help of volunteers, 4,500 backpacks full of supplies were distributed to schools in Northwest Louisiana.

The drive will benefit more than 4,000 elementary, middle and high school children identified as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and/or families in poverty throughout three different school systems.

United Way Fill the Bus School Supply Drive seeks to lessen the strain on already strapped household budgets. Last year, on average, families with children in K-12 in the United States spent $98 on school supplies such as backpacks, notebooks and pencils, according to the National Retail Federation. That does not include electronics, clothing/uniforms and accessories.

“ALICE families that are working hard, but can’t keep up with the high cost of living are faced with having to choose between buying school supplies or paying for basic bills,” United Way CEO Dr. Bruce Willson, Jr. said. “We are helping to ease this financial struggle and give some students the basics to start off the school year on the right track.”

United Way is making it easier to make donations by partnering with www.YouGiveGoods.com, which allows donors to make an online purchase of supplies that will be delivered automatically to United Way.  Monetary donations can be made by visiting www.unitedwaynwla.org.

Donations can be dropped off to the United Way offices at 820 Jordan St., Suite 370, in Shreveport or 202 Miller Street in Minden. Over the next few weeks, supplies will also be collected at four different Walmart locations:

East Bert Kouns, Shreveport:  July 14-15, 3-7pm; July 16, 10am-2pm; July 22, 3-7pm; July 23, 10am-2pm.
N.Market St., Blanchard:  July 14-15, 3-7pm; July 16, 10am-2pm; July 21-22, 3-7pm; July 23, 10am- 2pm.
Airline Drive, Bossier City:  August 4-5, 3-7pm; August 6, 10am-2pm.
Homer Road, Minden:  July 22, 4-8pm; July 23, 8am-12pm.

Based on the needs expressed by local educators, United Way is collecting backpacks, binders, three-ring notebooks, filler paper, pocket folders, composition and spiral notebooks, index cards, pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, pens, highlighters, crayons, markers, colored pencils, construction paper, glue, rulers, dry erase markers, and scissors.  Donated cash and gift cards will be used to purchase items not donated.

For more information about making donations, volunteering at one of the collection or stuffing events, email Jennifer Martin at jennifera@unitedwaynwla.org or call 318-677-2504 x136.