Stuff the Bus: United Way hosts school supply drive

Drew Butler
The United Way of South Central Oklahoma hosted the Stuff the Bus school supply drive on Friday at Walmart in Ardmore to gather supplies and extra funds for area schools. From left to right: Chris Stevens, operations manager for Stephens Media Group, Daela Echols, executive director of United Way of South Central Oklahoma, Jody Westervelt, senior account executive for Stephens Media Group, and Johnny Bruce, director of Outcasts Under Transformation.

The United Way of South Central Oklahoma spent Friday afternoon outside of the Ardmore Walmart gathering school supplies at their annual Stuff the Bus event. During Stuff the Bus, shoppers pick up a few few extra items such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks and other necessary school supplies then drop them off as they are leaving the store.

Daela Echols, executive director of United Way of South Central Oklahoma, said the event is run with the assistance of their partner agencies at The Grace Center of Southern Oklahoma and Outcasts Under Transformation.  Once all of the supplies are gathered, the Grace Center reaches out to area schools to find out what supplies are needed. Then Outcasts Under Transformation sort all of the supplies into categories and box up the requested supplies to deliver them to the schools.

Participants can also donate cash during the event and funds are used to purchase some of the more expensive items used by older students, such as graphing calculators and musical instruments for school bands.

Echols said the event was a massive success, and though the final amount of supplies and money had not yet been tallied, the event looks like it rivaled the success of the 2019 drive.

“It’s been amazing,” Echols said. “I’m not going to say that we’re trying to compete with last year, but you always want to outdo the year before. Last time I think they did 17 baskets full, and this year I thing we’re going to get really close to that.”