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First day of Pack the Bus is good, more school supplies needed

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Aug. 9, 2013 at 3:09 a.m.

Ryley Purnell, 5, left, places donated school supplies on a school bus parked at the entrance of the H-E-B Plus! on North Navarro Street. Ryley's mother, Kodie Purnell, 35, right, encouraged her daughter to give the supplies for the annual Pack the Bus event because "Every child deserves a fair chance." Pack the Bus aims to collect new school supplies for more than 3,000 underprivileged Crossroads students.

Kodie Purnell exited the H-E-B Plus! on Friday afternoon and handed her daughter, Ryley, a plastic bag of new school supplies.

Ryley, 5, grabbed the grocery bag and walked the items up the front loading steps of the nearby school bus.

Walking four or five rows back, Ryley placed the items on the seat.

After a couple of trips toting supplies on the bus, the incoming kindergarten student said she was pleased with her efforts.

"It's fun," said Ryley, who will begin Rowland Elementary on Aug. 26. "It helps the kids."

The Purnells' generous giving was part of Faith Family's annual Pack the Bus event, which aims to distribute new school supplies to about 3,000 students in the Crossroads.

"We don't have much. We live paycheck to paycheck, but I think every child deserves a fair chance," said Purnell, 35, of Victoria, on why she wanted to donate supplies to Pack the Bus.

Together, the mother-daughter pair donated items such as notebook paper, folders, crayons, markers and several food items donated by H-E-B.

Mark Longoria, Pack the Bus organizer, said the two-day event was a great success on its first day.

In addition to the many new supplies donated at both H-E-B locations in Victoria, Longoria said monetary donations were also made.

Since the event kicked off earlier this month, Longoria said more than 2,000 students have been registered to receive supplies.

"This is a great event because it lets our community know that we care about education, and the kids will go back to school with a mindset of preparedness," said Longoria, Faith Family's outreach minister. "It's important that we support our children, and we support families who need help."

School supplies will be collected at both H-E-B locations and Faith Family Church through Aug. 15, but Pack the Bus will end Saturday.

Longoria said he encourages everyone to come out to one of the H-E-B stores Saturday and sponsor one Crossroads child's school supplies by purchasing a prepacked bag, which is organized by grade.

"Right now, we have more students registered than supplies, so we need people to come donate," Longoria said.

Money will also be accepted, which is converted into H-E-B gift cards, which are used to buy school supplies.

After Purnell and Ryley donated the school items, they both agreed they would return Saturday to make one final donation on the bus.

Even though they don't have much money to spare, Purnell knows how important it is for children to get excited about learning.

"When a child doesn't have supplies to bring to school, it can make them feel alone and embarrassed. But this way, all these kids will have what they need," Purnell said. "They'll have their chance."



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