School man says...Stuff the bus, gus!

7/11/2014

By RENÃâE JEAN

By RENÃâE JEAN

rjean@gctelegram.com

The last time the subject came up, Sam Jacobs said he wanted to be a teacher when he grows up.

But before the precocious 7-year-old becomes that, no doubt, mild-mannered teacher, he's got another, more exciting plan.

He's going to become a superhero.

"I'm gonna be dressed up in a crayon box costume, and I'm gonna be at Walmart and the two Dillons, and I'm going to be dancing around and telling people stuff, like make sure to buy school supplies!"

The costume will have a cape, if Jacobs has his way, and a diamond-shaped patch with an "S" on it.

That "S" won't stand for Superman, though.

"Schoolman!" Jacobs said. "That's who I'll be."

Schoolman will be making appearances at Dillons east and west and Walmart any time between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. July 19 and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 20 for Stuff the Bus, which provides backpacks stuffed full of necessary supplies for schoolchildren who might otherwise have to start school without them.

Donations are accepted at any time. Call 271.6197 for details.

The young superhero will be telling everyone he meets to be a hero in the community by buying a few school supplies for the charity effort.

"I decided to do this because I thought it would be fun," Jacobs said. "The part about dancing around in the crayon box costume."

Jacobs is the son of Lori Jacobs, with Spirit of the Plains Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and a committee member for Stuff the Bus. CASA advocates on behalf of children who have been removed from their homes due to child abuse or neglect.

CASA is one of several organizations working together to provide backpacks to area schoolchildren. Also involved are Finney County United Way, Finney County Community Health Coalition, Salvation Army, Spirit of the Plains CASA, USD 457 Homeless/Migrant Program, GCCC Educational Talent Search, United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries, Dillons, Walmart and the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce.

The collaboration was the brainchild of Susan Escareno, director of the local United Way, and Verna Weber, with Finney County Community Health Coalition.

"We said, 'Hey, let's not duplicate. Is there a way we can all work together to meet the needs of not only the children we serve, but all the children of Finney County?'" Lori Jacobs recalled. "So that is what we are doing. We are all working together to collect as many supplies as possible to distribute to the children we serve."

Back in April, Stuff the Bus was one of 200 nominated as a finalist in an online contest with State Farm's Neighborhood Assist Program. They were vying for a grant to buy more supplies and add a reading book to each backpack. They needed to make it into the top 40 to win.

"Last check, we were only in the 80s," Lori Jacobs said. "So we didn't make it, but we did really well. There were a lot of larger programs in the competition."

Stuff the Bus is still a big winner for the community, Jacobs said, because of the smiles it puts on so many young children's faces. Stuff the Bus helped 750 school children with supplies last year.

This year, they are positioning themselves to help even more children, by adding locations and being open an additional day.

"Self esteem for kids is huge," Escareno said. "If they can go to school with a new backpack with school supplies like other kids, they start the year off feeling better about themselves."

A complete list of items being collected is available by emailing fcuwed@gmail.com or vweber@fineycountyehlpdesk.org, but includes such things as backpacks, loose-leaf paper, glue sticks, crayons and other common school supplies.

"It's an awesome project," Lori Jacobs said. "We will accept whatever people would like to give, though we have some suggested items. We try to go off the school supply list. We cannot provide every single thing off the list, but we try to make sure every kid gets the basics."

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