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Campaign collects supplies for students

By Elena Watts
July 29, 2014 at 2:29 a.m.
Updated July 30, 2014 at 2:30 a.m.

Fill the Bus, a campaign to collect school supplies for children who need them, kicked off Monday at Victoria Wal-Marts. United Way and Wal-Mart have partnered to sponsor the program nationwide. The supplies collected in Victoria are to benefit VISD students.

Kellena Hise, 53, and her daughter, Alicia Robles, 33, Victoria school district teachers, purchased bags prefilled with school supplies at Wal-Mart on Tuesday.

"I know the needs some kids have," Hise said. "Fifty percent of my kids don't have a pencil daily."

Wal-Mart and United Way joined forces nationwide to sponsor Fill the Bus, a campaign to collect school supplies for children in need. Both Victoria Wal-Mart stores will collect supplies until Aug. 8.

"This is a choice, and I want to teach my kids to do good things for others - to explain that it's important," said Robles, a math teacher at Howell Middle School.

In addition to the prepacked bag provided by Wal-Mart, Hise and her daughter also had boxes of pencils and composition notebooks for their classrooms in their shopping basket.

Last year, she purchased 500 pencils for her science students at Stroman Middle School. In private, some students have shared they cannot afford to purchase supplies, so Hise has given them what they needed.

She spends more annually than the allotted $150 school district reimbursement to make sure her students have the necessary supplies.

"I don't want to embarrass them, so I tell them to come get the supplies they need," Hise said.

Hise and Robles showed the giving, caring nature of teachers, said Diane Boyett, VISD communications specialist. In addition to the supplies they purchased for their own students, they bought bags for other children, she said.

"It's a feel-good thing," Boyett said. "So that students have supplies when they walk in the door."

Many teachers spend more than the reimbursement, and some do not even take advantage of the reimbursement, Boyett said.

"This is a people enterprise, not a business," Boyett said. "This alleviates the financial strain families feel and helps the teachers, too."

Pre-packed bags full of basic supplies, such as spiral notebooks, folders and pencils, range from $5 to $10. Customers deposit the blue recyclable bags in bins near the exits as they leave. They can also select the supplies for students from the school section and drop their purchases in the containers.

"We want every child to have a good first-day-going-back-to-school experience," said Robert Smith, co-manager for Wal-Mart on North Navarro Street. "We want them to be excited about their new school, their new teacher and their new supplies."

This year, Wal-Mart also has an online registry that helps kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers save money on school supplies, Smith said.

All items purchased by teachers in the stationery, fabric and crafts departments through Thursday are eligible for a 10 percent discount. Receipts must be registered online by Aug. 15, and refunds are sent by e-gift card within two weeks.



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