LIVE OAK, Fla. — When the big yellow bus rolled through Branford on Thursday, it wasn’t taking kids to school or back home.
Rather, Suwannee District Schools officials were delivering school supplies for the upcoming school year.
A second bus trip is scheduled for Live Oak this Thursday.
The school supply bus trip came after it was learned that the Suwannee Coalition wouldn’t be sponsoring the annual Back to School Bash this year.
So Marsha Tedder, principal at Suwannee Primary School, said a group of school officials got together and devised a new way to help out with supplies.
“We just felt like we wanted to do something,” she said. “We had a bunch of books that we could give out. And let’s throw in popsicles because it’s summer.”
With a need for additional school supplies to help with the plan, the Live Oak Police Department and Beall’s Outlet stepped in.
Tony Faller, the community resource officer with the LOPD, said Beall’s contacted the LOPD about having collected backpacks for the Back to School Bash and needed help in finding a new route to donate them.
Faller said that led to a call for donations.
“It’s been pretty successful,” Faller said, adding businesses and individuals have donated around 125 backpacks and countless school supplies with Walmart donating $200 worth of school supplies. “We decided to partner together to promote what (Beall’s) was doing and to see if anybody else was willing to donate.”
With that willingness of the community to help, the LOPD then partnered with the schools to get those supplies where they are needed. “It’s just been a combined effort,” Tedder said. “We haven’t had a lot of weeks to do it, but with the success of (Thursday in Branford), hopefully we can make it even better next year.”
It was also a combined effort to distribute the school supplies — Tedder said they handed out between 75-100 shopping bags full of school supplies that were filled with everything from notebook paper to pencils, from crayons and colored pencils to erasers — with approximately 50 school administrators, directors, teachers and even some Branford FFA students helping with the distribution.
After making several stops around Branford, the school bus will be back on the road Thursday, heading to several locations within Live Oak.
Tedder said children — and parents — should be on the lookout for the bus.
“They can just look for the yellow school bus and if they see us, we are going to stop and they can get some school supplies, get some books and a popsicle,” she said.