Local companies collect school supplies

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, August 4, 2011

While most parents are bustling through the stores this weekend to pick up tax-free school supplies, several community organizations are working to collect supplies for students who can’t afford them.

Dominion Power, the Salvation Army, the Chop Shop on E. Washington Street and several local churches are collecting notebooks, pencils, backpacks, binders and anything else kids need before they start school next month.

For the second year, Dominion is hosting its “Fill the Bucket” campaign to collect donations today, the first day of the tax-free weekend.

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Dominion volunteers will be outside of 11 Office Max locations, including the Harbour View East store, asking people to donate supplies or money to help out less fortunate students.

“We just feel like it’s important for students to be prepared for school,” said Dominion spokeswoman Bonita Harris. “This is just one more way to help students, so we can have a better future.”

She said the company decided to have the drive during tax-free weekend because it’s a time when school is at the front of people’s minds.

“People are saving money and we’re hoping that they will be willing to bless someone else,” she said.

All of the supplies Dominion collects, Harris said, will be given to the Salvation Army to distribute to the students.

In addition to working with Dominion, the Salvation Army also conducts its own collections.

Janet Cowan, an accountant at the Salvation Army on Bank Street, said the organization has been gathering supplies for students for as long as she can remember.

“It’s important that they get off on the right foot in school,” she said. “If we give them a backpack filled with all the supplies they need, it’s one less reason for them to fall behind.”

Cowan said she thinks new school supplies can do more than prepare the children for school.

“I think it builds confidence in the child,” she said. “If you go into the first day of school, they feel good if they have that new book bag.”

The group is accepting donations at its office and at select Chick-fil-A and Farm Fresh locations throughout the city. Cowan said the group is hoping to provide supplies to 500 students throughout Western Tidewater.

Along with big companies that are collecting supplies, The Chop Shop, a barbershop on E. Washington Street, is conducting its own drive.

The drive is sponsored by the TCS Boyz Foundation, a motorcycle club to which the shop owner and other employees belong.

TCS Boyz member Antonio Smith said the club wanted to do something to give back to the community.

He said the club members are buying supplies, and they are accepting donations at the shop.

“We’ve got a lot of donations,” he said. “We have a lot of people coming by the shop and dropping off.”

The group plans to give the supplies away on Aug. 27 from noon to 5 p.m.

Smith said the supplies will be packaged and given out on a first-come, first-served basis.