School supplies being collected for area students

At the start of each school year, one kindergarten teacher watches as many of her students show off their new school supplies.

But her attention also is drawn to the children who don’t have the right supplies, often because their family can’t afford it.

When a student doesn’t have the proper school supplies, they don’t have the tools they need to succeed in school, said Mariah Hinderliter, kindergarten teacher at Clark Elementary School.

“They are excited, they are scared and they don’t want to be the kid who doesn’t have the supplies,” she said. “Those No. 2 pencils mean the world to them.”

That’s why the United Way of Johnson County offers its Fast Track program every year, giving out school supplies to thousands of students. The organization is getting ready for the next school year with “Stuff the Bus” events at multiple sites on July 15, which are needed to collect supplies for students in need.

The program gives about $30 in school supplies to low-income families in all of the county’s public school districts. This year, the United Way is hoping to collect enough school supplies to give to 2,200 students, or about $66,000 in school supplies, executive director Nancy Lohr Plake said.

Shoppers at three Walmart stores across the county are encouraged to pick up a few school supplies to donate while they are doing their regular shopping, Plake said.

“It is really easy for the shopper to go in and grab a few items and return them to us,” Plake said.

Most of the school supplies that are collected for the annual event are collected on that day, she said.

Other collection sites are open at local businesses throughout the summer until each school district has their distribution event. School districts give the United Way lists of their needed school supplies and shoppers are asked to go off the lists, Plake said.

Collecting school supplies is crucial to make sure that all students have what they need to start school, said Hinderliter, who is also a coordinator for Stuff the Bus.

Between book rental, class fees and school supplies, parents have huge costs associated with going back to school, she said.

“It smacks you all at one time. It takes your breath away, it really does,” Hinderliter said.

Proper school supplies are crucial to students getting an education, and Fast Track helps make sure that all students get the supplies that they need, she said.

“(They are) the tools we use to help these children get what they need to achieve,” Hinderliter said.

At a glance

United Way of Johnson County is collecting school supplies to help low-income students through the annual Fast Track Program. Items requested include backpacks, three-ring binders, composition notebooks, spiral notebooks, loose leaf paper, scissors, ear buds, yellow highlighters, dry erase markers, glue sticks, markers, colored pencils, red ink pens, rulers and large pink erasers.

Here is how you can donate:

Donations can be made at local businesses with collection boxes, including:

  • Horizon Bank branches
  • Huntington Bank branches
  • Mutual Savings Bank branches
  • Johnson County Public Library branches
  • Main Street Self Storage, 2537 E. Main St., Greenwood
  • United Way of Johnson County office, 594 Ironwood Drive, Franklin

You can also bring donations to “Stuff the Bus” events from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 15 at local Walmart locations at:

  • 2125 N. Morton St., Franklin
  • 882  S. State Road 135, Greenwood
  • 1133 N. Emerson Ave., Greenwood
Author photo
Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.