Pullman Kiwanis holds annual ‘Stuff the Bus’ project

About 2,000 backpacks filled with school supplies were distributed last year; students may need more this year due to COVID-19



In the past, Pullman Kiwanis conducted the project as a three-day drive with a school bus parked at Dissmore’s. This year, there will not be an in-person drop-off location due to COVID-19.

LOREN NEGRON, Evergreen editor-in-chief

The Kiwanis Club of Pullman is holding its 12th annual Stuff the Bus project to provide students with school supplies. Donations are accepted until Aug. 14.

The project is a collaboration between the Kiwanis clubs in Pullman and Moscow, as well as the school districts of Pullman, Moscow, Colfax and Colton-Uniontown.

Larry Clark, Pullman Kiwanis board member and publicity chair, said the project meets the need of families who cannot afford school materials. This is a common need for low-income families because supplies can be expensive, he said.

“It’s really difficult for kids to learn if they don’t have those supplies in hand. It’s also embarrassing,” Clark said. “Nobody wants to not have what you need to go to school.”

Bob Maxwell, Pullman School District superintendent, said the project has a significant impact on families. Many parents have become unemployed due to COVID-19, he said, which makes it difficult for families to purchase school supplies for children.

He said the project also helps the districts focus on allocating resources to other areas of need.

“It’s a great resource for our district and our students, families and staff,” Maxwell said.

Clark said Pullman Kiwanis is accepting monetary donations for the project this year due to COVID-19 concerns. Some of the money might be used to buy masks for students to help them stay safe at schools.

“It’s definitely an unusual year,” he said. “It’s not just pencils and notebooks and calculators. It’s more than that.”

In the past, Pullman Kiwanis conducted the project as a three-day drive with a school bus parked at Dissmore’s. Clark said that area served as a drop-off location for people to donate, stuffing the bus with school supplies.

He said the club works with school districts to determine which supplies are needed. Pullman Kiwanis will use the monetary donations to buy school materials and store them in backpacks rather than organizing an in-person drop-off site. School districts will then distribute the supplies confidentially to families who are eligible for free or reduced school lunch.

The project received about $15,700 in donations from 45 businesses and individual donors last year, Clark said. About 2,000 backpacks with school supplies were provided to the schools.

“Pullman is such a great community for understanding what our needs are and for stepping up when necessary,” Clark said.

In conjunction with Stuff the Bus, Pullman Kiwanis is also holding its annual Gently Used Musical Instrument Drive, according to the club’s website. Donations can be dropped off at the Pullman School District office.

Individuals interested in making monetary donations can send a check to Pullman Kiwanis before Aug. 14, according to its website. Donations can also be made online. Another option is to buy a bag of school supplies at Dissmore’s with a discount from the store. Materials will be donated from the store to the project in sealed boxes.

“This year, more than ever, these kids and their families could really use our support to help them get back to school this fall,” Clark said.