(Shreveport, LA) – United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) partnered with Bossier Parish Schools for the annual Fill the Bus initiative and held school supply collection drives at BOM Bank, Bossier Parish Libraries, and Chase Bank locations throughout August. Thanks to these initiatives, thousands of supplies were collected for students in Bossier Parish.

Fill the Bus took place on August 6 and August 7 at the Walmart Supercenter on Airline Drive, where a large school bus was filled with various school supplies. Monetary donations were also accepted on-site, totaling $532. UWNWLA presented this check at the Bossier Parish School Board meeting on Thursday, where Bossier Schools honored United Way for its efforts in the initiative. Bossier Schools intends to use these funds to purchase headphones for their students.

UWNWLA’s Fill the Bus event with Bossier and Caddo Parish Public Schools encourages Northwest Louisiana communities to shop at participating Walmart Supercenters to purchase and donate the tools necessary for students to succeed in the classroom. This resource will benefit more than 4,000 elementary, middle, and high school children identified as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and/or families struggling to make ends meet throughout two different school systems.

“Anyone who has bought school uniforms and school supplies at the beginning of the year knows how quickly it adds up,” said Sonja Bailes, Bossier Parish Schools Public Relations Liaison. “For many families, that expense is beyond their means. Often, it is our teachers who fill the void by reaching into their own pockets to ensure that their students have what they need, and that is why we are so so grateful that many of our community partners stepped up to host school supply drives.”

Last year, the annual event was adapted to strictly workplace collection drives as a safety precaution due to COVID-19. More than 30 large boxes and more than 50 backpacks were filled with the necessities needed for Caddo and Bossier Parish students and teachers. This year, the event took a hybrid approach due to increasing vaccination rates and mask mandates.

“I am grateful we had the opportunity to once again ‘FILL THE BUS’ in person,” said Harper McKnight, UWNWLA Community Engagement & Creative Coordinator. “So many people want to support local education, and this event makes donating school supplies quick, accessible, and easy. The community has rallied around Bossier Schools, and it is incredible to see the results of LIVING UNITED first-hand.”

On average, families with K-12 children in the United States plan to spend $849 on school supplies, such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks, and lunchboxes, according to the National Retail Federation. UWNWLA’s Fill the Bus School Supply Drive lessens the financial strain on ALICE families’ household budgets and sets students up for a successful school year.