MASSENA — It’s June and students are thinking about graduation at the end of the month.
But the Massena Salvation Army already is thinking about back to school in September.
The agency will start taking applications in July for its annual “Stuff the Bus” campaign, in which shoppers are asked to purchase school supplies for the new academic year and drop them off for distribution to needy families.
“We’re taking applications all of July. In August we’ll begin taking collections,” Capt. Russell Crowsen said. “We’re just trying to make people aware of it early so they don’t contact us in August. It’s best to get the word out early.”
The Stuff the Bus campaign is geared toward helping families cope with purchasing back-to-school items by providing as many items off school lists as possible. Shoppers are asked to consider buying school supplies that they donate to the Salvation Army for distribution to families in need. The agency assisted about 135 children last year.
“This year the need might be more,” he said.
Capt. Crowsen said applicants need to bring in some form of identification that proves they live in the greater Massena area served by the agency. The areas covered by the Massena Salvation Army are Bombay, Brasher Falls, Fort Covington, North Lawrence, Chase Mills, Rooseveltown, Helena, Hogansburg, Raymondville, Norfolk, Massena and Waddington.
Applicants also need to bring the list of supplies provided by teachers, if it’s available.
The program is designed to help with the basic items such as crayons, notebook paper, pens, pencils and scissors, Capt. Crowsen said.
“People sometimes forget that the basics add up,” he said.
The Salvation Army will do the best it can to distribute items to families. “We operate on donations, so we can’t promise we can fill everything on the list,” Capt. Crowsen said.
Donations can be dropped off at OfficeMax, Hannaford and the St. Lawrence Centre mall from Aug. 1 to 28. Price Chopper also will be participating, but the dates of its collection are set by the store’s corporate headquarters.
“When they’re in shopping at Price Chopper, they can keep an eye out,” he said.
With the number of required items — and their associated cost — continuing to grow, Capt. Crowsen said the agency is just trying to provide a helping hand to families.
“It helps with the basics. It helps parents buy the more expensive stuff,” such as graphing calculators that are required for some math classes, he said.
Applications for back-to-school assistance will be taken at the Salvation Army’s new headquarter office, 170 Victory Road, across the road from its current location.
Distribution will be made on Aug. 25, a week before school starts.
“That gives parents the weekend to buy what they need,” Capt. Crowsen said.
For more information, call the Salvation Army at 769-5154.