Two dozen students in Rock Hill will have new lunch boxes this year, thanks to the generosity of one local woman and the help of her 4-year-old daughter.
Leah Bruce dropped off the boxes stuffed with supplies at the Rock Hill school district office, where officials are trying to get supplies lined up for every student to start a new academic year.
The sight of the thermal tote boxes from Thirty-One Gifts impressed Serena Williams, the district’s community services coordinator.
“I looked at what they would retail for,” she said, “and these are $20 lunch boxes.”
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The Herald and its sister community newspapers – the Enquirer-Herald in York and Clover, the Fort Mill Times and the Lake Wylie Pilot – are partnering with school districts in York and Lancaster counties to gather supplies for children from families in need.
There’s still time to help make sure all children are equipped for the first day of school, which comes in less than two weeks.
The Rock Hill school district will be hosting a Stuff the Bus event this Saturday in the parking lot of the Newport Walmart from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to take advantage of the tax-free weekend – which starts at 12:01 a.m. Friday and runs through midnight Sunday.
District officials and members of the local chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority hope shoppers taking advantage of the tax-free weekend will buy some extra notebooks, pens and paper and help stuff the Rock Hill school bus that will be parked outside the store.
Williams is hoping for results similar to the last time the district asked people to stuff a bus, just before the start of the 2013 school year.
“The turnout was incredible,” she said. “We raised close to 3,000 supplies.”
Even if shoppers miss the bus Saturday, Walmart has an area set aside to collect donations throughout the tax holiday weekend.
But Bruce didn’t wait until the tax-free weekend to make her contribution to the school supply drive. After getting her co-workers at Allen Tate Realtors to sponsor a lunch box each – the Rock Hill native bought four herself – Bruce dropped the boxes off at the district office packed to the zippers with other school supplies.
“I got them in a special sale, two at full price and one at half price,” she said. “Plus, I was able to use a portion of the commission I receive as a consultant (for Thirty-One).”
Bruce didn’t want any recognition for her act of kindness. She didn’t leave a name at the front desk, but the office assistant who accepted them recognized her as a former Northwestern High School student.
Bruce supplied all the pencil packs and notebooks for the boxes herself, and her 4-year-old daughter, Natalie, helped put the packages together.
“Her job was to stuff all the tackle boxes,” Bruce said. “She was so excited, because she knew she was doing something to help other kids in the community.”
The pre-schooler also got her own set of supplies to match those going to older kids in the district.
“She was disappointed she didn’t get a glue stick,” Bruce said. “I had to tell her, ‘I’ll get you one next week.’”
Now other shoppers in the district have the chance to do the same thing – help families who need a hand equipping their kids for school.
“I knew I had access to a lot of these items,” Bruce said, “and I wanted to spread the love.”
The Herald’s School Supply Drive
Needed school supplies
Three-ring binders, including 1-inch, 2-inch, 3-inch or 5-inch
non-sticky book covers
Clorox or Lysol wipes
dry erase markers
folders with prongs
handheld pencil sharpeners
loose-leaf notebook paper, both college ruled and wide ruled
marble composition notebooks
clear page protectors
pencil pouch or box
scissors, both blunt and pointed
black sharpie markers
white copy paper
quart and gallon zip-lock bags
Where to give
Drop-off locations for school supplies
Rock Hill: Rock Hill schools district office, 660 N. Anderson Road, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
Fort Mill: Fort Mill school district office, 2233 Deerfield Drive; Doby’s Bridge Elementary School, 1000 Dragon Way; Tega Cay Elementary School, 2185 Gold Hill Road; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
Clover: Clover school district office, 604 Bethel St., 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Clover Community Bank, 124 Old N. Main St., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Clover Community Bank-Lake Wylie, 5196 Charlotte Highway, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
York: York District Office, 1475 E. Liberty St.
Lancaster: Lancaster School District, 300 S. Catawba St.; U.S. Postal Service, Main Street, Lancaster; Food Lion stores on North Main Street and Airport Crossroads; and Southern States Chiropractic, 106A N. Woodland Drive, Lancaster.
Where to send money
Make checks payable to these organizations and write “school supplies” in the memo line:
Rock Hill Schools Education Foundation, P.O. Box 12286, Rock Hill, SC 29731, or drop off from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday at Rock Hill Schools Administrative Office, 660 N. Anderson Road, Rock Hill.
Foundation for Fort Mill Schools, online at ffms.org or mail checks to the foundation at P.O Box 476, Fort Mill, SC 29716. Contributions in excess of the amount needed for school supplies will be used for field trip scholarships.
Clover School District, 604 Bethel St., Clover, SC 29710.
York School District One, 1475 E. Liberty St., York, SC 29745.
Communities in Schools, Lancaster, P.O. Box 3241, Lancaster, SC 29721.