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Marshall ISD 'Pack the Bus' supply drive provides for every elementary student

Marshall ISD is taking school supply drives to the next level this year as it kicks off a community-wide “Pack the Bus” initiative that will see every single elementary school student given their full school supply list for free.

“Our goal is for every elementary student at Marshall ISD to have their school supplies provided for them,” Marshall ISD Superintendent Jerry Gibson said on Tuesday.

Gibson plans to enlist local churches, businesses, civic organizations and groups in a community-wide school supply drive that would see the full school supply list provided, for free, for each of Marshall ISD’s almost 2,650 elementary students in grades pre-kindergarten through fifth grade by the start of school in August.


The initiative, which the district plans to start work on now, is called, “Pack the Bus.”

“We plan to literally pack a bus, or a couple of buses, with school supplies,” Gibson said. “We’re going to see how full we can get them.”

The idea first came to Gibson when he was asked by an area church what they could do to help the district.

“From there, we talked about having a school supply drive, and I said, ‘We need to just pack the bus’,” Gibson said. “We said we need to get as many churches as possible involved, and then I started thinking, what if we took it even further and got civic organizations like the Lions Club, Rotary Club, Optimist Club and others involved. Then the idea continued growing and we though of Marshall area groups like doctors, dentists, CPAs, attorneys and realtors.”

Gibson said he hopes to get organizations and groups that are already hosting their own school supply drives each year to instead join together with the district for the “Pack the Bus” initiative.

“We plan to break the school supply lists down by item for each group, business, church or organization,” Gibson said. “For example, if it says on the school supply list that the child needs three pencils, we will take that and multiply it by the total number of elementary school students that need pencils. Then we’ll tell that business or church or organization, ‘OK, we need you to purchase 7,950 pencils, or raise the money for it and we will go purchase them.’”

Gibson said the district plans to go down the school supply list, asking groups, businesses and organizations to commit to collecting or raising the money for the specified number of their particular item. Then the district will go purchase the items or store the items in a warehouse managed by the district.

“Once we get all of the supplies collected for each Marshall ISD elementary student, we will disperse them to the campus and the teacher’s classroom so that on the first day of school in August, all the students need to do is show up,” Gibson said. “Their full school supplies will be in their teacher’s rooms already provided.”

Gibson said he understands this is a big undertaking, but he believes it’s an important cause and he hopes smaller churches or organizations could pair up with others to see their supplies collected.

“I’m going to try to meet with every church in Marshall and I’m working with Stormy Nickerson at the Greater Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce to get connected with groups and businesses,” Gibson said.

Gibson said if the community comes together, he believes “Pack the Bus” can be successful and show Marshall ISD students how much their community cares about them and their education.


“When we look at how many of our students come from poverty, then we look at the school supply list, which averages between $70 and $105 per student, depending on the grade, that really adds up — especially for parents who have more than one student,” Gibson said. “We have some parents that are single parents and they have three to five students.”

Gibson said the district is kicking off “Pack the Bus” now in order to have plenty of time to get the word out and enlist the help of the community.

“We’re starting now, so we have plenty of time,” Gibson said. “We hope to have everything together by late July.”

Currently, there are 2,657 elementary students in grades pre-kindergarten through fifth grade enrolled in Marshall ISD.

“We are going to rise to the occasion,” Gibson said of the Marshall community. “We have more partnerships with more businesses and institutions than we’ve ever had, and the community is starting to gain confidence in the district again. I believe the community will come together and get this done for our students.”

For those interested in joining in the “Pack the Bus” school supply drive, contact Marshall ISD spokesman David Weaver at (903) 927-8700.


Source:  Marshall News Messenger