By Jalen Wade
Special to The Sentinel
BOWIE – Some of the most needed goods for students in Prince George’s County are basic school supplies.
On Aug. 10, members of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) participated in the Stuff-a-Bus event. This event brought out dozens of people who donated school supplies with the named goal of filling a school bus and to provide them to local students. The event took place at the Bowie Town Center as the final of three sites for Stuff-a-Bus.
According to PGCPS, the goal of the event is to send 10,000 county students back to school with supplies. Residents brought backpacks, along with elementary, middle and high school supplies. It also served as a buildup to the county’s Back-to-School Block Party on Aug. 17, where area students were able to receive a free backpack before school starts.
“We’re going to hold our ninth annual Back-to-School Block Party and that event is truly a labor of love on behalf of all of our school district. We work to provide 10,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies to Prince George’s County Public School students that attend the event,” said Quon Wilson, marketing and communications specialist for PGCPS, who is in charge of the event.
According to Wilson, Stuff-a-Bus are huge events for the community. Along with people from the public school’s system office, student volunteers came out as well. Wilson said that it was a way for them to help the county but also to gain service hours.
“I came out so I could help support the schools and help get supplies because there are a lot of people who need these supplies because not everyone can afford them,” said Donovan River-Ware, one of the student volunteers.
Rivera-Ware’s mother, Berniece Reese, explained that buying all of the necessary school supplies for the new school year can often be expensive and many cannot afford it. According to the National Retail survey, families with elementary, middle and high school students will spend an estimated $27.5 billion or an average of $685 per household on school supplies for the new school year. Reese states that this event helps to “lessen the burden” that parents face.
In addition to helping with Stuff-a-Bus, Reese, who is the community partnerships specialist with PGCPS, is also in charge of the Adopt-a-School Program that allows local businesses, community partners and interfaith partners to provide support to students in three areas: college and career exposure, financial support and volunteer service.
“It’s going to be an amazing investment for their futures, particularly in career exposure,” Reese said. “This could look like field trips. It could be mentoring sessions. There could be organizations coming and talking to students on career day asking them, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’”
Some major businesses and business partners were at the event as well as assisting. FedEx was providing boxes to help transport goods. The local Texas Roadhouse restaurant made an appearance, providing deals and family discount coupons to people who were dropping off goods.
Radio station WHUR was also at the event. Harold Fisher, the speaker on the station’s “Daily Drum” section, explained why Prince George’s residents always come together for events like this.
“It’s always been a family community; it’s always as long as I’ve been here. It is an affluent county when it comes to African Americans and they are willing to share. Even standing here you see people coming out and they were willing to dig deep. A lot of them just hear about it on the radio, they stop what they’re doing and they go to the store so they can contribute,” said Fisher.