GREENFIELD — United Way officials are seeking donations of school supplies for children in need — and volunteers to help sort the hundreds of pens, pencil and other items expected to pour in during the annual campaign.

United Way of Central Indiana’s Stuff the Bus, which collects some 35,000 school supplies provided to students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, is slated for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 19. To collect the supplies, a school bus will be parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot, 1965 N. State St., Greenfield.

The next day brings the annual effort to count, sort and pack the pencils, crayons, notebooks and more. Previously known as BackPack Attack, the event is slated for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 20 in the J.B. Stephens Elementary School gymnasium, 1331 N. Blue Road, Greenfield.

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The drive for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, now known as Backpack United, allows children who might not be able to afford school supplies to start the school year prepared for class. At upcoming school registrations, 17 schools across Hancock County will provide school supplies for students who qualify to receive assistance, officials said.

About 30 percent of Hancock County students from kindergarten through eighth grade qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, one of the main ways the organization identifies students who could benefit from the effort, said Jeannie Roberts, volunteer engagement coordinator for United Way of Central Indiana. The supplies are distributed in bulk to schools based on that percentage of low-income students, and school guidance counselors distribute them during registration, Roberts said.

Indiana children rank in the middle of the country — 28th — when it comes to overall well-being, according to the recently released Kids Count Data Book, an annual report that compiles state trends in areas affecting child well-being, including economic well-being, education, health and community.

The Hoosier state ranked 18th in economic well-being, a factor that plays a strong part in a child’s ability to become successful, proactive adults, according to the report, compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

And the knowledge that students living in poverty are at a higher risk of not finishing school is what leads United Way to help them by filling the gaps on their school supplies list, Roberts said.

People are often surprised to learn so many students in Hancock County schools are from low-income families, Roberts said. Students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunch range from 14 percent to 47 percent at different county schools, she said.

Because the need for school supplies is so large, Roberts began reaching out to county employers and churches about a month ago, she said.

One county business that employs many county residents plans to be a part of Stuff the Bus every year.

Keihin-NA, an auto-parts manufacturer on the north side of Greenfield, reminds employees to donate supplies or money in the facility’s cafeteria, said communications manager Robb Farris.

Last year, Keihin employees also purchased 25 backpacks to add to their stack of crayons, markers and glue sticks, Farris said.

“Everybody needs help, and it’s expensive to send kids back to school,” he said. “We want to be a good partner in the community, and there’s no better way than to help kids going back to school.”

If you go

Stuff the Bus

Donations drive

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 19

Greenfield Walmart parking lot, 1965 N. State St., Greenfield.

Biggest needs: two-pocket folders, thumb drives, ear buds

If you go

Backpack United brings volunteers together to organize donated school supplies for children in need.

  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 20
  • J.B. Stephens Elementary School gymnasium, 1331 N. Blue Road, Greenfield.

Those who volunteer at Backpack United should come dressed in comfortable shoes and clothing, the report states. Bottled water will be provided for volunteers.

For more information or to volunteer for Backpack United, contact Jeannie Roberts at 317-414-8288 or

How to donate

United Way of Central Indiana accepts donations of school supplies and monetary gifts for its annual school supplies drive. To make a monetary donation, checks should be filled out to United Way of Central Indiana, memo to “Backpack United.”

Send to:

United Way of Central Indiana

One Courthouse Plaza, Greenfield, IN


Author photo
Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or