'Stuff the Bus' with school supply donations at Westfield Brandon mall

The first day of school is just a month away and school supplies are needed for children with parents that can't afford them. A local business is leading the way to stuff the bus.

Thanks to COVID-19, there's not much inventory at the Hillsborough Education Foundation Teaching Tools Resource Center in Tampa.

"Our largest source of school supplies is through our supply drives," explained Kim Jowell, the CEO of Hillsborough Education Foundation.

So, last year when the pandemic hit, businesses were closed and people were not out, social distancing was in place. Now, that restrictions are lifting, businesses like Westfield Brandon are paying it forward by participating in the "Stuff the Bus" campaign.

"So, this year is really, really critical for them to be able to get additional supplies for their students," said Dawn Arvidson, Westfield marketing director. "So, that's why we're here doing what we're doing at Westfield Brandon, and really pushing it out there to help our, have our, community come help support the students."

The project's goal is to give free school supplies to students whose family can't afford them.

"So, when families are struggling to put food on the table and pay the bills, school supplies are not something that extra income is around to spend on," Jowell added.

The center needs every tool a child needs to start school.

"So we always need those pencils and pens, paper folders, spiral notebooks, colored pencils are also important. The rulers and you can see here we've got our scissors for the early learners. They need those Crayola crayons," explained Jowell.

This is the second year that the mall has participated in the Stuff The Bus campaign.

"This is part of what our company stands for is really giving back to our community. So, you know, it's something that not only do we do here, but we do across the company to help with our community," shared Arvidson.

The center says that they will need about 150 school drives to re-stock their shelves. If you have any school supplies that you would like to drop out just go to the food court in the mall, there is a display for you to put your supplies in.

The last day to donate is August 15.

Note: This story has been updated to reflect Stuff the Bus benefits the Hillsborough Education Foundation and Westfield Brandon. We regret the error.