The community will have a chance Friday and Saturday to help Webster Parish students prepare for school.

The annual Pack the Bus event will be from 4 until 8 p.m. Friday, and from 8 a.m. until noon, Saturday in the Walmart parking lot in which volunteers will collect school supplies.

Ursula Hullaby, with Webster Parish Schools, says donors may contribute school supplies and/or make monetary contributions at the bus.

The supplies will be given out at the 8th annual Back to School Bash set from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., Monday, Aug. 8 at the Minden Civic Center.

“We have an actual school bus parked on the sidewalk at Walmart, and we are soliciting donations, either financial or school supplies,” Hullaby said. “When people go into Walmart, we’ll give them a flyer of things that we need, and they can contribute that way. They can contribute as a sorority, fraternity, organization, etc. They can bring supplies to the bus.”

Once Pack the Bus is over, the supplies will be driven back to the Webster Parish School Board office and separated into the bags that will be given to students at the Back to School Bash.

“The purpose of the drive is to provide students with the supplies they don’t have,” she said. “Some are not in a financial position to have the necessities.”

The Back to School Bash is an event open to all Webster Parish students, she added. The first three hundred kids will receive a free t-shirt. Every child who attends the event will receive a ticket for raffle prizes. Hullaby says several individuals and companies have contributed for raffle items. So far, they have 40 sponsors, with 15 of those banner sponsors, which means they have donated $500 or more worth of in-kind services or money. Prizes range from bicycles to tablets to gift cards to gift baskets, she said.

Minden Medical Center and United Way of Northwest Louisiana are major sponsors this year, Hullaby said. Walmart is also one of their larger sponsors as well.

Jennifer Spurlock, MMC marketing director, says while their support continues as it always has, they will also have a handwashing station at the bash to educate children on the importance of handwashing as well as ways to stay healthy.

“We’ll be educating students and parents on the importance of handwashing, nutrition and exercise,” she said. “We use that as an opportunity to remind children and their parents why it’s important to wash their hands so they’ll stay healthy this school year. We’ll talk to them about different exercises, things they might not think are physical activity. We talk to them about eating healthy, cutting back on sugar and fats.”

Kagnee Veitch, United Way operations coordinator, says volunteers will be on hand at the Pack the Bus event and the Back to School Bash. She says it is important that children have the necessary supplies to start school.

“Children are a very aspect of what we do at United Way,” she said.
“We do not want any child left out and we want to take care of them any way we can. We work with organizations in Shreveport and Bossier to do events like this as well, and it’s important for us to work with the Webster Parish School Board to make sure our students in the surrounding area are prepared when they go back to school.”

Several other vendors will be there as well, including mental health facilities, local barbershops giving free haircuts, the Webster Parish Library and a representative from each school in South Webster Parish.

For more information, call Hullaby at Central Office at 377-7052, ext. 228.