Brava

August 2013

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work to inspire Jodi Burmester, Patty Zallar and her dog Kannon and Erica Singley Stuff thegathers a busload of supplies Bus A local organization to support kids' school success By Amy Carlson August brings the last days of summer vacation freedom, but also the anticipation and excitement of a new school year. For many children and parents, this means back-to-school shopping. Remember the thrill of buying a box of new crayons with all of the colors nicely sharpened? How about picking out new notebooks just waiting for inspiration and instruction? Many Madison area children will have no such shopping thrill, returning to school with few, if any, supplies. The rate of students living in poverty has risen steeply. A stark example: The percentage of children approved for free or reduced price meals at Sandburg Elementary has risen 34 percent over the past 10 years, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. And those are the numbers at just one Madison school. The sharp increase in poverty has left many parents barely able to provide breakfast and lunch for their children, let alone new school supplies. Teachers are left to fill their students' needs by reaching into their own pockets. The lack of proper supplies is often a source of shame and embarrassment for these young children. You can help. The Wisconsin Lions Clubs are sponsoring a one-day "Stuff the Bus" project to benefit students in need. On Saturday, Aug. 17, you're invited to drop off school supplies at one of four area locations and stuff an entire school bus with those items. Purchase as many supply items from the list as you'd like. If you're not a shopper, you can donate money directly to the Stuff the Bus program or right to your neighborhood school. After the area Lions Clubs coordinate the pick-up, the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools will distribute the supplies to area public schools. Teachers will identify the students in need and invite them to "go shopping" and pick out their supplies right at their own school. It's a happy opportunity for many of those students. "Sometimes homeless kids don't have anything but the backpack full of supplies and it becomes their prized possession," says Jodi Burmester, Stuff the Bus program coordinator. It's also a great way to teach your children about the importance of giving while learning to appreciate what they already have. It's a lesson about lending a hand to help even the playing field for all kids as they start a new year of learning. Just think—your family's gift of crayons or markers could inspire a budding artist. A new notebook and pen could ignite the creativity of an aspiring writer. Most of all, it will ensure that struggling students start the year with confidence knowing someone is supporting their path to learning. ••• Amy Carlson is anchor of NBC 15's Weekend Morning Show in Madison. She can be reached at acarlson@nbc15.com. NBC 15 is a proud media sponsor of this new program and will have station personalities at the collection locations to thank you for your donations. What it is: Stuff the Bus provides basic school supplies to students in need by partnering with community organizations and schools. 28 BRAVA Magazine What they do: Stuff the Bus aims to identify schools with a high student population in need of basic supplies, and helps provide students with the materials they need to succeed. August 2013 How to help: Bring school supplies or monetary donations to the location nearest you. Find a wish list at local school supply stores and walmart.com. Drop-off locations: Walmart West; Walmart East; Walmart Monona; Anytime Fitness (1117 N. Sherman Ave). For more information: lions-serve.org Photo by Shanna Wolf A Quick Guide to Stuff the Bus

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