Every year educators spend hundreds to thousands of dollars of their own money to provide school supplies for students. For the past seven years, the Greater Excellence in Education Foundation, or GEEF, has worked with area businesses to set up school supply donation sites for its Tools for Schools program.
Each year these school supplies are sorted, counted, packed and delivered to the Harford County Public Schools for students in need. This year, United Way of Central Maryland's Community Partnership Board of Harford County collaborated with GEEF to pick up all the school supply donations from area businesses for its 1st annual Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive.
The Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive collected $7,500 in school supplies. Added to the supplies previously collected through GEEF's Tools for Schools program, GEEF delivered $11,500 in school supplies for students in need during the month of August.
"In previous years, businesses would hold a school supply drive to collect donated school supplies and I would drive around and pick up the donations," said Deb Merlock, founder/president of GEEF. "This year with the help of United Way of Central Maryland, we increased the number of businesses that participated. And through the generosity of Anderson Bus Company in Aberdeen we drove throughout the county in a school bus, making stops at each business and filled the bus to capacity with donated school supplies."
The Stuff the Bus school supply drive helps to stock GEEF's Tools for Schools resource center. The Tools for Schools resource center is a store for teachers to shop for free school supplies for their students during the school year.
"Everyone was excited to see the school bus pull into their parking lot. Employees were standing outside on the curb eagerly waiting to put their donations on the bus," said Season Voelker, senior relationship manager of United Way of Central Maryland. "We were thrilled with all of the school supplies that were donated."
The businesses and organizations that participated in the school supply drive were J. Vinton Schafer & Sons, Exelis, Inc., Kohls Distribution Center, APG Federal Credit Union, Bulle Rock Residents Club, EZ Shield, Harford County Public Library, It's PayDay, Slavie Federal Savings Bank, Welcome One Emergency Shelter, Walgreens (through The Kids in Need Foundation), TIC Gums, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, PNC Bank, and Sun Trust Bank.
"We are grateful for the support of businesses", said Merlock, "especially in a year when more students need school supplies due to the current economic climate. We look forward to more businesses joining our efforts in coming years. Providing school supplies to the teachers to give to the students is the most effective way to ensure that every child receives what they need to participate in high quality learning".
GEEF's Tools for Schools program has been using temporary space but is in need of a permanent location, Merlock said. Businesses interested in providing space or who would like to donate to the Tools for Schools resource center can contact Merlock at 410-322-7743 or firstname.lastname@example.org. School supplies are needed and collected year round.
For more information about GEEF, visit http://www.geefinc.com and for more information about United Way of Central Maryland, visit http://www.uwcm.org.