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United Way of West Central Minn. begins collecting school supplies for area families

This Stuff the Bus bin was delivered Thursday to the Conway, Deuth and Schmiesing office in Willmar by the United Way of West Central Minnesota. Donations can be left in these bins in about 60 area businesses and churches in five area counties. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR -- Necessary school supplies for one student costs an average of $60 per year and 50 percent of families in west central Minnesota will struggle to afford those supplies for their children this year, said Sara Bos, resource development director at United Way of West Central Minnesota.

Stuff the Bus, an event sponsored by United Way of West Central Minnesota, will collect school supplies for families in need. Collection bins are being distributed to about 60 businesses and churches in Kandiyohi, Meeker, Renville, Swift and Chippewa counties. Delivery of the bins started Thursday.

United Way encourages people to drop off school supplies such as backpacks, calculators, pencil boxes, paper, 3-ring binders, folders, pens, highlighters and crayons.

Hygienic products such as tissues, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and paper towels are also needed.

A total of 6,316 items worth $8,327 were donated last year, and Bos said she hopes to collect even more this year.

United Way will be at the Dairy Queen on First Street in Willmar for at least two hours beginning at 7 a.m. Aug. 17 to stuff the bus with more supplies. All collection bins will be picked up later that day and brought back to United Way.

Representatives from each school are then invited to pick up items for their students.

Bos estimated that the supplies will help at least 600 students at Willmar, New London-Spicer, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Benson, BOLD, Litchfield, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg and Renville County West public schools.

For more information about collection bin locations, contact Sara Bos by phone at 320-235-1050 or by email at