By Michael Eng | Managing Editor
Kiwanis Club of Plant City’s Anna Reitz carries a thick notebook filled with columns of numbers and figures all scrawled in her handwriting.
The notebook looks like the elaborate work of a bookie, but it’s something far better: the records for the Kiwanis Club’s annual Stuff the Bus campaign.
For the past three years, Reitz has organized and piloted the campaign, which raises money to purchase school supplies for children in need throughout Plant City.
This year’s campaign runs through Aug. 13, and although the fundraising portion of the drive is complete, those interested in helping still can donate supplies at drop-off sites, including Sweetbay, 205 W. Alexander St., and Stingray Chevrolet, 2002 N. Frontage Road.
So far, Reitz has received $7,000 through sponsors, which also include Unity in the Community and South Florida Baptist Hospital. She just cut a check for $3,299.50 for backpacks and will use the rest for a variety of other supplies.
“I have a ball doing this,” Reitz said of purchasing the supplies. “I’ve never had so much fun in my life.”
Kiwanis International introduced the Stuff the Bus campaign in 2008; and the Plant City chapter adopted it a year later. To date, the chapter has raised more than $23,000 for supplies, which have benefited more than 3,800 Plant City children.
The chapter focuses on Plant City’s 16 elementary schools, as well as four high schools: Durant, Plant City, Strawberry Crest and Simmons Career Center. The supplies are distributed equally among the schools, where principals and guidance counselors donate them to the students who need them the most.
“It is really heartbreaking to know how many kids are homeless and hungry,” Reitz said. “They also don’t have school supplies, and hopefully, this helps out just that little bit.”
Following the Aug. 13 deadline, Reitz and her fellow volunteers will organize and sort all the supplies. Then, on Aug. 20, the day before school begins, they will drive the supplies to all 20 schools for distribution.
“Every once in a while, I get to see a child with one of the backpacks,” she said. “And that just makes me cry.”
Contact Michael Eng at email@example.com.
HOW TO HELP
Donate school supplies such as loose-leaf paper, crayons and markers at Sweetbay, 205 W. Alexander St., and Stingray Chevrolet, 2002 N. Frontage Road.