The "Stuff the Bus" campaign being conducted by the United Way of Union County is so successful that project coordinator Terri Sproull said the virtual bus has had to be extended by three rows to accommodate all the donations.
But there's always room for more and the agency is asking local businesses to pledge boxes full of supplies for local students until Aug. 1.
It takes two boxes to fill one seat on the bus and 56 boxes to fill a school bus completely.
Collection sites have been established at 29 Union County locations; for a complete listing, visit the website at unitedwayofunioncounty.org.
Students may contact their school guidance counselors for more information about obtaining supplies.
"If everyone meets their goal we have right now, we'll have a bus-and-a-half load of supplies coming to the Union County schools," Sproull said.
"We currently have 120 boxes pledged to be filled by Aug. 1," she said. "Memorial Hospital just requested four more boxes and Trinity (Lutheran Church) requested another five boxes last week. We have 29 businesses/organizations (participating) plus four sponsors."
The United Way has conducted the school supply drive for decades, according to Sproull. Last year, officials realized the project wasn't hitting the mark when a second drop was scheduled halfway through the school year to fill the need for more supplies. Each of the two drops to area schools includes about $4,500 worth of supplies.
"That was the point we obviously didn't communicate the need enough," she said. "We didn't highlight it and make it an event the community could rally behind.
"This is the tool we thought would be a good marketing tool to bring us what we needed."
Sproull pointed out that Union County may be doing well with business development but the children still have needs.
"We have children who are still on free or reduced-price lunch. We have children that are still on scholarship for their school fees. We still have a 21-percent poverty rate in Union County," she said.
"I worked in the school system for 10 years and every year, I spent between $300 and $500 out of my own pocket to make sure students had what they needed," Sproull said.
Marysville schools and North Union schools have each donated a bus to make collection rounds on Aug. 1.
The donations will be taken to the Central Ohio Youth Center to be sorted. After that, they will be boxed and sent to the superintendents in the Marysville, Fairbanks, North Union and Jonathan Alder school districts. The superintendents will then turn the supplies over to the guidance counselors.
"The guidance counselors typically know their (students') family situations and know if there is a need," Sproull said.
She is excited about the great response so far.
"The community has embraced it. The community knows kids are going to school without everything they need to succeed," she said.