Record number of Stillwater area students in need forces ‘Stuff the Bus’ to stop registration early

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So many families in the Stillwater Area School District have asked for help this year that a nonprofit organization cut off its annual school supplies giveaway a week earlier than planned.

Community Thread officials had planned to keep registration for its “Stuff the Bus” campaign open until Aug. 8, but closed it Monday instead after more than 550 students signed up in one week. That’s a record high and a 20 percent jump over last year’s total number, said Jennifer Kmecik, the organization’s community engagement director.

“It’s the economy. It’s inflation. It’s the price of gas. It’s everything,” she said. “Everything is more expensive. Teachers aren’t changing their lists.”

The National Retail Federation says inflation is expected to add 40 percent to the cost of school supplies this year.

Donations to the “Stuff the Bus” campaign are down, and organizers are in dire need of help, Kmecik said. It takes about $50 in donations per student to provide the needed supplies, she said.

Although registration is closed, parents can add their children’s names to a wait list in case more donations come in.

Gift cards to Target or Walmart would be most helpful, Kmecik said, so that specific school supplies can be purchased as needed.

Donors can drop off supplies at American Family Insurance, Bell Bank, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, Cub Foods, Eckberg Lammers, Edina Realty, First Resource Bank, First State Bank & Trust, Guardian Angels Church, Lake Elmo Bank, MidWestOne Bank, Optimal Life Chiropractic, Sletten Orthodontics, Stillwater Motors, The Daily Grind, United Way of Washington County – East, US Bank — Oakridge Branch, and Vitality Chiropractic.

Donations also can be made online.

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