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Stuff the Bus

July 31, 2017
 
By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools
 
MURFREESBORO — With families preparing to return to school in about a week, a group of volunteers and local businesses have been working to ensure students get started on the right foot and with all the supplies they need.
 
As it has done for the past several years, the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties held its Stuff the Bus “sort-a-thon” Friday to collect school supplies, box and deliver them to the two school districts in Rutherford County and to Cannon County Schools.
 
“One in six children are living in poverty in our community and more than 1,500 youth are identified as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act within Cannon County, Murfreesboro City and Rutherford County school systems,” local United Way President and CEO Meagan Flippen said during the sort-a-thon, which took place at Hobgood Elementary School.
 
For this year’s Stuff the Bus initiative, 70 local companies and organizations worked to collect school supplies, ranging from scissors and glue sticks, to spiral notebooks and backpacks. In all, nearly 15,000 items were collected, Flippen said.
 
More than 100 volunteers worked to sort and box the items for delivery, which was handled by the local UPS office.
 
Charles Dickerson of Ingram Books was one of those volunteers.
 
“For unfortunate families, we want to make sure all the children have what they need on the first day of school and can start off the school year with a smile on their faces and not have to worry about what they don’t have,” Dickerson said.
 
Companies who were supporting sponsors include State Farm, Amazon, Kasai, City Auto, UPS, Schneider Electric, Quinn’s Mercantile, Kennametal, Wastequip, Murfreesboro City Schools and International paper. Hot Topics, which operates its Tennessee Distribution Center in LaVergne, was the presenting sponsor for this year’s Stuff the Bus event.
 
“We’ve typically sponsored with Pencil Partners (in Davidson County), but with our facility being in Rutherford County, we wanted to branch out to other counties,” said Meredith Odell, the administrative supervisor for the facility.
 
Other organizations, such as Murfreesboro Young Professionals, provided volunteers for the event.
 
“One big thing MYP is big about is giving back to our community,” said Robin Seay of Parks Realty and the outreach committee chairwoman for Murfreesboro Young Professionals. “This one of the biggest events each year and so it is a perfect opportunity.”

Also on hand was Mrs. Tennessee LaShan Dixon, who also works as the Rutherford County Health Department. Equipped with her crown and sash, she took posed for photos with volunteers and talked with students from Murfreesboro City Schools who visited the sort-a-thon Friday.
 
Dixon has been a longtime supporter of the United Way because of the impact they have had on the community, she said.
 
“I really fell like the help people in the community,” Dixon said.
 
The school districts will deliver the Stuff the Bus supplies to elementary schools over the next couple of weeks to assist those students whose families can’t afford to purchase supplies for the new school year.
 
PHOTOS / JAMES EVANS
 
(1) Charles Dickerson with Ingram Books helps other volunteers sort school supplies at the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon County's Stuff the Bus event. 
 
(2) Matthew Stump and Chase Salas with Murfreesboro Young Professionals assembly boxes for the Stuff the Bus event.
 
(3-6) More than 100 volunteers representing 70 businesses and organizations participated in the United Way's 2017 Stuff the Bus event. 
 
(7) Mrs. Tennessee LaShan Dixon greets school children who came to the Stuff the Bus event to thank volunteers.