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Harford Education Foundation's Stuff the Bus under way

Each year, educators spend hundreds of dollars of their own money to provide school supplies for students who are unable to afford basic learning materials.

For the past 12 years, local businesses, educational institutions and civic organizations have partnered with the Harford County Education Foundation by collecting much needed supplies through its Stuff the Bus Campaign. Donated school supplies are picked up from businesses, then sorted, counted, packed and delivered to Harford County Public Schools for students in need before the first day of school.

"Helping a child start off on the right foot on day one builds their self-esteem and assists in their learning process," Warren Hamilton, Education Foundation Board Chair, said.

School supplies are also used to stock the Education Foundation's Tools for Schools Resource Center. The Tools for Schools Resource Center is in Bel Air, where teachers from Harford County Public Schools shop, free of charge, for school supplies for their economically challenged students.

"Who knows better than teachers what supplies their students require to succeed?" Deb Merlock, President of the Harford County Education Foundation, asked. "We are the year-round resource in providing school supplies to students in need. The number of students that live in poverty and are even homeless in the district is staggering and it is vitally important to equip these students with the resources they need to build confidence in learning."

By donating to a centralized resource center, the Harford County Education Foundation maximizes the number of students served by allocating resources based on need. It is by this method that the Resource Center can ensure each child is provided the right school supplies, and that no child in need is turned away because of a shortage of resources.

Items needed for the Stuff the Bus campaign include:

• Pencils (regular and colored), pens, markers (washable and dry erase)

• Crayons, highlighters

• Blunt edge scissors, protractors, compasses, erasers

• Glue sticks and white glue bottles

• Loose leaf paper, index cards, composition notebooks

• Two-pocket folders, 1 1/2" and 3" binders, binder dividers

• Zippered pencil pouches (including binder pencil pouches), plastic pencil cases

• Backpacks

• USB drives, Graphing calculators

• Plastic zip storage bags (quart and gallon size)

• Tissues, hand sanitizer

Collection sites for Stuff the Bus donations are in the following Harford County businesses through Sept. 15: A Bright Idea; Applebees - Aberdeen; Advanced Eye Care; APG Federal Credit Union; Armstrong Ceilings; The Arena Clu; Aruba Sun & Spa; BB&T Bank; Beacon Staffing Alternatives, Inc.; Bel Air Athletic Club; Bel Air Orthodontics; Bright Oaks Pediatric; Chesapeake Bank of Maryland; Cummings & Co. Realtors; Department of Emergency Services; Drayer Physical Therapy; Edward Jones; Express Employment Professionals; First National Bank; Freedom Federal Credit Union; Gold Medal Physical Therapy; Har-Co Credit Union; Harford Bank; Harford County Chamber of Commerce; Harford County Public Library; Harford County Public Schools - Hickory Avenue; Harford Mutual Insurance Company; Howard Bank; Jones Junction; Klein's/Shoprite - Main Street; McFaul Activities Center; New Destiny Evangelistic Church; Planet Fitness; Point Breeze Credit Union; PNC Bank - Bel Air South; Raytheon; Stringfellow Management Group; Sunny Day Cafe; TIC Gums; Towson University - Northeastern; The Yards at Fieldside Village; Total Urgent Care; Weyrich, Cronin and Sorra, CPA; and the Y-Ward Family Center - Abingdon.

School supply donations can also be made directly to Harford County Education Foundation by emailing connect@harfordeducation.org. Monetary donations are accepted at www.harfordeducation.org/donations.

Harford County Education Foundation donated $29,000 in school supplies to Harford County classrooms in 2016. Since its formation in 2004, it has also awarded more than $100,000 in college scholarships. In addition to scholarships and supplies, the Education Foundation offers the county's 37,000 students some other valuable resources, including the SMILE Leadership Conference; LEAD for Tomorrow high school leadership program; Books in Hand Summer Learning Program; TECH Tools, Classroom Innovation Grants; and the Connect to A Classroom initiative that gives businesses in the community the opportunity to directly donate to an innovative classroom project or need.

For more information about Harford County Education Foundation, visit www.harfordeducation.org.

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