ROGERS (KFSM) - Going back to school may be exciting for kids, but for parents, the money spent on supplies can be a worry. The United Way Fill the Bus program is collecting donations for local families in need.
"We found that 50% of children in Northwest Arkansas don't have supplies they need to start school," Organizer Carrie Kent said, "So we do this initiative so that every kid can be ready on that first day of school."
The program started at 11 a.m. Friday at several local Walmarts. Kent said they had volunteers at every store by the door to talk to shoppers. She said they put boxes at the entrances so when shoppers came back with items like crayons, pencils and paper, they could drop them off to volunteers.
"We found that 40,000 families struggle to provide these basic need items, so we don't want that family to make that choice of do I get diapers or food items," Kent said, "We want school supplies to be something that they already have and that kid is ready to start school without them making tough decisions between food and school supplies".
Kent said once the program ends Saturday afternoon, volunteers will work to sort through the supplies and get them to local schools.
"We get the supplies and we drop them off at the school, then your counselors and principals distribute those to those children that need that," Kent said.
Stanton Ross has volunteered with the Fill the Bus program for the last two years. Friday Ross decided to fill a few bags himself.
"There's all kinds of kids that don't necessarily have all of the advantages that others do, and it's just good to try to help out," Ross said.
Shopper Kahla Scroggins said she participates in the fundraiser every year.
"I spent five bucks and every little bit helps," Scroggins said, "I got quite a big bag of school supplies, and Walmart has a lot of this stuff on sale so that makes it easier to afford."
This is the twelfth year Fill the Bus has been going on. Most locations will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.