(Shreveport, LA) – United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) partnered with Caddo Parish Public Schools for the annual Fill the Bus initiative and held school supply collection drives at Chase Bank and Red River Credit Union locations throughout August. Thanks to these initiatives, thousands of supplies were collected for students across 20 Caddo Parish elementary schools in the Achievement Zone, an initiative that provides real-time access to quality teaching and learning through a district-based support model, keeping students as the central focus.

Fill the Bus took place on August 13 and August 14 at the Walmart Supercenter located near Pines Road, where a large school bus was filled with various school supplies. Monetary donations were also accepted on-site, totaling $600. UWNWLA presented this check at the Caddo Parish School Board meeting on Tuesday. The school system intends to use these funds to purchase headphones for their students.

“The partnership between our local United Way and Caddo Schools continues to benefit our students year after year,” said Dr. Lamar Goree, Caddo Parish Public Schools Superintendent. “We are very grateful for their efforts in providing school supplies and monetary donations. We know this will continue to enhance learning for thousands of the students in our district.”

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

“Our selfless community volunteers power our back-to-school events,” said UWNWLA Community Engagement & Creative Coordinator, Harper McKnight. “It was wonderful to see familiar (masked) faces, as we had many long-time United Way volunteers jump on the opportunity to give back in-person again. All our youth volunteers that participated attend Caddo Schools, and their passion for supporting Achievement Zone schools was radiant. We are proud to be a part of a community that cares about education and continues to show up for the students and educators of Northwest Louisiana.”

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 Bossier and Caddo Parish students and teachers. This year, the event took a hybrid approach due to increasing vaccination rates and mask mandates.

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.