FORT SMITH, Ark.–— It was another warm weather weekend, but that didn’t keep United Way from filling buses with school supplies. Supplies were collected for the 13th annual Fill the Bus drive on Friday, July 28 and Saturday July 29 at Walmart stores in Alma, Booneville, Fort Smith, Greenwood, Ozark, Paris, Poteau, Sallisaw and Van Buren. The total packages donated this year was over 47,300, which is up from last year’s total of 44,640.

“United Way of Fort Smith Area works with several community partners to provide school supplies to hundreds of children in need in our community. Each summer, committed volunteers and staff members collect and distribute school supplies to assure that all kids have the basic items they need for a solid start for a successful school year. The level of commitment to caring in this community is always so inspiring,” said Eddie Lee Herndon, President of United Way of Fort Smith Area.

“We are so grateful to each of the over 700 volunteers and to the generous donors who helped make this year’s event another great success,” said Mitzy Little, United Way Marketing Director “This event has become synonymous with back to school in our area and United Way is proud to help get the school year off to a better start for local children.”

Volunteers worked shifts on Friday and Saturday helping to hand out flyers and count and sort supplies. The event lasted from 9 am to 9 pm on Friday and from 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday. Many area businesses also collected supplies at their offices.

“Many of the students in my school have trouble getting the essential supplies needed for school. As a volunteer for Fill the Bus, I have witnessed the generosity of the people in this area and the way United Way makes a difference in my students’ lives”, said Kim Arnold, Principal at Mansfield Elementary School. Mrs. Arnold has volunteered at the Kelley Highway Walmart location for several years.

All of the supplies collected are distributed to local school districts. If you know of a child in need of supplies, have their parent or guardian call the school they will be attending to request supplies from the United Way Fill the Bus supply drive.

A special thank you to Walmart for allowing United Way to host this event at its stores throughout the region, to Phil and Terri Hicks and their partner Shelter Insurance agents for sponsoring the t shirts.

United Way of Fort Smith Area serves Crawford, Franklin, Logan and Sebastian counties in Arkansas and LeFlore and Sequoyah counties in Oklahoma. Its mission is to improve lives by connecting people and resources in its six-county area.