As the start of the academic year quickly approaches a discount retailer and nonprofit are combining efforts to gather school supplies for local families in need. Walmart is using their Fill The Bus Program to benefit the Banquet's Project S.O.S.
When it comes to back to school shopping, many South Dakotan families struggle to purchase everything on the list.
"There are actually lots of children in this area that can't afford to have school supplies, especially the lists that schools have nowadays, I mean, it's huge," Walmart Assistant Manager Chris Mason said.
Which is why Walmart stores are setting up cardboard school buses in the entrances of the buildings, where people can donate anything from notebooks and folders to pencils and crayons. The west Sioux Falls Walmart is accepting donations Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Both east and west locations will accept supplies next Saturday and Sunday as well.
For now, the donated school supplies are going to go into a truck, but later on, the items will be put into an actual school bus.
After that, the items will be transferred into backpacks and handed out to children from low-income families. Tamera Jerke-Liesinger is the executive director of the Banquet, and she says Project S.O.S. makes a big difference in the community.
"When the beginning of the school year comes, it's expensive. You have to think about school supplies, you have to think about backpacks, back to school clothes and shoes, and it all adds up, and parents struggle to make that happen for their children. So Project S.O.S. was designed for that reason, to help take some of that burden off some of these low-income families," Banquet Executive Director Tamera Jerke-Liesinger said.
Last year the nonprofit handed out 6,700 backpacks, and this year, the organization plans to give away even more.
Project S.O.S. Will take place on August 16 at Whittier Middle School from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. In order to receive supplies, the child must be present, accompanied by an adult, and must have one form of identification, such as a Social Security Card, birth certificate, or passport.