County-Wide Fill the Bus Drive Aims to Serve 5,000 Kids at School Districts Across Lorain County

7.30.18 - United Way of Greater Lorain County has partnered once again with the Lorain County Educational Service Center and H&R Block to coordinate a Fill the Bus school supply drive that provides students in need with supplies at 13 school districts throughout Lorain County. 
“This all started about seven years ago when I took my grandkids shopping for school supplies and spent about $200,” said Brenda Walsh, manager at H&R Block and founder of Fill the Bus in Lorain County. “I realized that a lot of people might not have the means to spend that much money at once and I started to think about what that would mean to their kids.”
Walsh reached out to Greg Ring, then the Superintendent of Schools for the Lorain County ESC, and formed a partnership to ensure supplies would be delivered directly to the school districts in Lorain County. Ring was a board member for United Way of Greater Lorain County at the time, and reached out to United Way about a partnership. 
Current ESC Superintendent Franco Gallo has continued to support the partnership and also serves on the United Way board. 
“We started small but have continued to grow each year,” said Walsh. “Last year we had supplies for over 4,000 kids and this year we want to reach more schools and serve over 5,000 kids.”
Through its educational work with Community Collaboratives focused on kindergarten readiness and middle school success, United Way saw a gap in how school supplies were being distributed to families, especially for those without transportation who could not attend distribution events held throughout the county.
“We believe our community can accomplish great things if we use a collaborative approach to solving any social problem,” said United Way of Greater Lorain County executive director Bill Harper. “This partnership ensures a wide distribution of supplies and we encourage others to join us in this effort, enhancing what’s out there to ensure there are no gaps, so that all kids can have what they need to succeed.”
Needed items include pens, pencils, colored pencils, markers, crayons, highlighters, pencil cases, notebook paper, spiral notebook, two-pocket folders, index cards, tissues, hand sanitizer, lunch boxes, book covers, backpacks, usb drives, poster board, post-it notes and headphones. 
Donations for Fill the Bus can be brought to United Way of Greater Lorain County’s annual Campaign Kickoff on Aug. 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mike Bass Ford, 5050 Detroit Rd in Sheffield Village. In addition to Fill the Bus, the Kickoff event will feature the Lorain High School marching band, free lunch, a drop in volunteer project, and more. 
Other donation drop off locations includes the Elyria Big Lots, Elyria Walmart, the Educational Service Center of Lorain County, and United Way of Greater Lorain County. Further drop off location details and addresses are listed below. 
Aug. 10 Elyria Big Lots, 825 Cleveland St, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Aug. 11 Elyria Chestnut Commons Walmart, 1000 Chestnut Commons Dr, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Aug. 17 United Way Campaign Kickoff at Mike Bass Ford, 5050 Detroit Rd, Sheffield Village, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Aug. 1 through Aug. 27 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Educational Service Center of Lorain County, 1885 Lake Ave, Elyria.
Aug. 1 through Aug. 16 and Aug. 20 through Aug. 23 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at United Way of Greater Lorain County, 642 Broadway Ave, Lorain.