Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

The Craig County school bus had almost every box on each seat filled with the intent to help students in Craig never be without the supplies they need to succeed in school.

Can a student truly be successful without needed resources like school supplies? Most would agree that they cannot, and so do the teachers and staff at Craig County Public Schools. However, they just didn’t talk about it, they did something about it!

From August 4 to August 6, several teachers and staff spent hours at the Salem Wal-Mart beside their Craig County school bus, offering people the opportunity to help support students through donations.

“This means a lot to our students,” Superintendent Jeanette Warwick shared on WDBJ-7 news. “No student should be without their needed supplies in school.”

Craig has participated in this program for several years now. “It was started by Linda Taylor Baker,” Diana Bayne, Division Benefits Coordinator and Fiscal Technician, said. “When Craig first participated it was coordinated and sponsored by Q99 and Walmart and they called it, ‘PAK THE BUS.’ They then changed it to ‘FILL THE BUS’ and this year, it was called ‘LOAD THE BUS FOR KIDS’.”

People walked into Walmart and came out with smiles and donations. Some gave a whole bag full of supplies, while others could only give a pack of pencils or a couple of notebooks. “It doesn’t matter the amount that you give,” Warwick shared. “It’s that you gave to help a child, and please know that everything will be used at our schools.”

Many seemed to have heard that plea of Craig’s School Superintendent that led to many seats on the bus getting full. The bus and volunteers were there Friday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday noon – 6 p.m.

Caroline Wright volunteering to help gather school supply donations for the ‘Load the Bus for Kids.’ event.

“This is more fun than it is work!” one volunteer shared. Many said it was heart-warming to watch little kids walk up with their things they had helped to pick out for other children around their age.

“I truly enjoyed being able to meet and talk to the people that donated as they were most generous!” Bayne added. “We had a box in just about every seat on the school bus full!” Bayne has volunteered for the last several years and doesn’t seem to get tired of the weekend event.

Many came to help out from Craig County. “We couldn’t let Diana have all the fun!” some shared. Other joyful volunteers were; CJ Crowder, Jeanette Warwick, Karen Jones, Marion Trumbo, Dustin Persinger, Sierra Frazier, Gerri Vandyke, Diana Bayne, Susie Mattox, Lauren Bayne, Heather Pressley, Shari Good, Caroline Wright, Marie Summers, Marcus Phelps, Mary Price and Allie Meadows.

School supplies needed included; paper, notebooks, pencils, rulers, pencil sharpeners, crayons, markers, pocket folders, glue stick, Clorox wipes, small calculators and protractors just to name a few. All donated items will be distributed evenly between McCleary Elementary and Craig County Middle and High Schools.

The loaded bus was almost packed as the bus driver drove home with a smile which matched the smile in the hearts of all who helped, knowing that the open hands of many will help to ease the pressure of some parents and the awkwardness of some students, by providing their supplies.

“There was also a total donation of $266. in cash and $50 in Gift certificates donated,” Gerri VanDyke, the new McCleary Elementary Principal shared. “It was split in half with Glenvar School.” An additional donation of $500 was given to Craig County as well, to purchase the needed supplies that they did not get donated.

If anyone still wishes to donate, they can bring it to the School Board Office or take it directly to McCleary Elementary School and give it to Susan Mattox to add to the supplies.

Bayne added, “These needed items will give the students the tools they need to hopefully achieve a great education and will continue to grow within our community in Craig.”

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