KENT COUNTY, Mich. — This is busy season for Diane Schwaiger. The transportation director for Kenowa Hills Public Schools is working long hours to make sure the district's bus drivers will be ready for the new school year.
But when Michaellita Fortier, her counterpart at neighboring Comstock Park Public Schools, reached out, Schwaiger knew she needed to add just one more thing to her plate.
"I received a phone call from the transportation director at Comstock Park, wanting to know if we wanted to have a little friendly competition. Well, that intrigued me," Schwaiger said.
The proposal was a "Stuff The Bus" competition to see whether Comstock Park's Panthers or the Knights of Kenowa Hills would be able to donate more school supplies to make sure kids in the districts start the year on the right foot.
"What we collect will come to our district and what they collect will be in their district and we're going to count it up at the end and see which district wins. All in fun," Schwaiger said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the last year and a half a rough go for students all over the world, and leaders from the districts are hoping this competition will create an extra incentive to help students as they head back to class.
"A lot of kids didn't have the opportunity to be in school last year. They're excited to go back into the buildings," Schwaiger said.
"Some parents were out of work. Maybe they need a little extra help with school supplies. This is going to help everybody."
Schwaiger, who has worked at Kenowa Hills for 21 years, says one of the things she loves about the district is that people always show up for each other, and she's sure the same can be said about the Comstock Park community.
"It's definitely family. A lot of people who went to Kenowa Hills are still within the district area and their kids and their grandkids are in Kenowa Hills now," she said.
Comstock Park donation location and times:
- Mill Creek Middle School - Aug. 3 to 5 (10 a.m. to noon and 3 to 5 p.m.)
Kenowa Hills donation locations and times:
- Zinser Elementary - Aug. 3 (10 a.m. to noon and 5 to 7 p.m.)
- Central Elementary - Aug. 4 (10 a.m. to noon and 5 to 7 p.m.)
- Alpine Elementary - Aug. 5 (10 a.m. to noon and 5 to 7 p.m.)
Suggested items to donate:
- Clorox wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Tongue depressors
- Large and small Ziploc bags
- Paper plates
- Post-it note pads
- Post-it easel pads
- Expo markers
- Dry-erase markers
- Colored pencils
- Crayola crayons
- Command Strips
- Pencil sharpeners
- Pencil erasers
- Paper clips
- Glue sticks
- Composition notebooks
- Lined paper
- Chart paper
- Construction paper
- Manila folders
- 2-pocket folders
- 3x5 notecards (blank/lined)
- Metal rings for notecards
- Pencil boxes
- Paper towel
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