Community service projects focus on school supplies and buses

Studies reveal that affected teachers spend an average of $750 of their own funds per year on supplies and classroom necessities. Two major community service efforts in Hernando County are working to ensure that all teachers and students have the tools they need to succeed next school year.

While there isn’t a designated bus featured in United Way of Hernando County’s 16th Annual Stuff the Bus event, there is a lot of heart. In an effort to streamline the distribution of supplies to teachers in Hernando, United Way will be hosting Stuff the Bus from Thursday, July 7 through Friday, July 15. This will take place at the eight Hernando Publix stores through internal school supply collections carried out in each store, collections organized at the checkout or presentation tables and collection bins displayed at the Publix.

“A recent community survey found that Stuff the Bus is United Way’s best-known program, stocking more than 100 local classrooms with needed supplies each year,” said United Way of Hernando County Executive Director Angie B. Walasek. “Although teachers’ wish lists will not be collected this year and volunteers will not be used in front of stores, United Way will distribute all supplies collected during the Hernando County School’s ‘Welcome Back Kickoff’ for teachers at Crosspoint Church on August 3. ”

Walasek said, “We have nearly 1,600 teachers in our Hernando school system and that’s exactly why this event remains a priority for our team. If we can ease any financial burden on a teacher by providing folders or a backpack or composition notebooks so that they can in turn provide them to a student who needs the basics, then that is exactly what we will continue to do. .”

The public is encouraged to purchase school supplies including pencils, pens, crayons, crayons, copy paper, markers, index cards, highlighters, calculators, erasers, rulers, folders, composition books, dictionaries and much more. For a complete list, visit Donate these supplies at any Publix store in Hernando County or drop them off at the United Way of Hernando County office at 4028 Commercial Way, Spring Hill.

But where is the bus? Missing from this year’s Stuff the Bus school campaign is the usual school bus parked in the parking lot of every Publix location, stuffed with school supply donations. “Thanks to our incredible partnership with Publix, the in-house collections will work really well. This yellow school bus, however, is iconic and is the staple of this event, but these are different times,” Walasek explained. we are fortunate to work hand in hand with our school bus service and I am here to emphasize that they are in desperate need of bus drivers, attendants and mechanics Our bus drivers generally volunteer their time each year to drop off the buses at each store and even help sort supplies, but there’s hardly anyone left.

Angie Walasek continued, “We’re not here to stretch them over the summer, we’re here to promote their hiring and recruiting efforts. Similar to not having the proper classroom tools, this is also an unmet need that will impact our students. Indeed, more school bus drivers are badly needed here in Hernando County.

“The staffing shortages we see affecting so many businesses also directly impact our transportation services,” said Hernando County Schools Transportation Director Ralph Leah. “To transport more than 9,000 students every day, we need 125 drivers, 42 guides and 10 mechanics. At this time, we have 37 open driver positions, 7 open attendant positions and 6 open mechanic positions. Without more drivers, attendants and mechanics, we simply won’t be able to provide the same customer service that our parents and students have come to expect.

Interested applicants for these positions should visit the Hernando County School Board website at or call the Transportation Department at 352-797-7003. Paid CDL training is included and all benefits are available.

For more information about United Way of Hernando County’s Stuff the Bus, visit To easily donate online, visit

The traditional school bus plays a major role in another school supply distribution effort, this one organized by the Hernando County Education Foundation and the Hernando County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Hernando Class of 2022. As a class project, the promotion of 2022 gifted the Foundation with a fully renovated and adorned Hernando County school bus, plus an additional $3,000 to purchase supplies.

“This bus is a mobile classroom, stocked with supplies for teachers, which as part of the foundation’s Tools 4 Schools program will visit more than 30 schools each month so teachers can board and pick up items for free. they need,” said Jenn Monaco, Class President for the Class of 2022 and Senior Events Specialist at the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce.

The class of 2022 cleaned, painted, packed and prepared the renovated bus. “It was a practical project,” said Monaco. “We got help from Ultima Graphix, who wrapped the bus, while Dynasty Collision fixed it, free of charge.” This bus is ready to be packed with crayons, crayons, markers, colored pens, staplers and staples, construction paper, notebook paper, rulers and more. “Teachers often take money out of their pockets to buy necessary school supplies for their students,” Monaco said. “And especially now, coming out of the pandemic, the need is great.” Those wishing to donate to Tools 4 Schools can bring donations of school supplies to the Back to School Party at Crosspoint Church: July 23 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Back to School Event at Terlep Chiropractic: July 30 July from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “It’s for the teachers,” Monaco said.

Norma P. Rex