EVERETT — It’s too early for school, but the bright-yellow buses are loading up.
To prepare for the academic year, the nonprofit Everett Public Schools Foundation is hosting its seventh annual Stuff the Bus for Kids campaign. The goal is to get 1,700 new backpacks full of supplies ready in time for students whose families might not be able to afford them.
“They at least have the tools they need and the supplies they need to start the first day on equal footing with their peers,” said Kristie Dutton, the foundation’s executive director.
The buses parked outside three local stores Aug. 12-14 will be a helpful reminder about the effort.
More than a dozen business also have been accepting donations since Monday. Their drop-off bins are scheduled to stay open through Aug. 14.
The foundation accepts new supplies or cash. They’re also looking for volunteers to accept the donations at the buses and later to sort them.
At $50 or so on average, backpacks are the highest-priced item on the list and in the biggest demand.
“In particular, we need high-school and middle-school size backpacks,” Dutton said.
Other needs include binders, folders and paper, pencils, pens and crayons.
Partners in the drive include the Boeing Co., World Vision, Durham School Services, Fred Meyer, NW Plus Credit Union, Everett Association of Paraeducators, Molina Healthcare and Inspirus Credit Union.
“Thank you to our community for supporting us each year,” Dutton said. “It seems like both our business partners and those who volunteer, they come back every year because they see the impact and it’s very gratifying.”
To donate supplies or make a cash donation in person, visit buses parked at the following drop-off sites between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Aug. 12 to 14:
• QFC, 2615 Broadway, Everett
• Fred Meyer, 12906 Bothell-Everett Highway, Everett
• Staples, 4920 Evergreen Way, Everett
Volunteers also plan to collect donations at the QFC on 4919 Evergreen Way in Everett, but there will be no bus at that site.
To see a list of needed supplies or drop-off bins at other businesses, go to www.epsfoundation.org.
To volunteer for the drive, contact Kirsten Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Vounteers are needed to help accept donations at drop-off sites from Aug. 12 through Aug. 14. The campaign also is asking for people to sort the donated items from Aug. 15 through 18.