Stuff the bus

Standing in front of the bus, left to right, are Assistant principal Chris Binotto; Principal Tyson Furgason; Junior Miss Paw Paw Mila Weekley, with her donations sitting on the ground; and PTO President Alison Eddy.

RIVESVILLE — Mila Weekley did her part Friday to “stuff the bus” in Rivesville.

The eight-year-old Junior Miss Paw Paw delivered a load of donated items to Rivesville School PTO’s  initiative to benefit Rivesville elementary and middle school students in need.

Her mother, Michele Weekley, said her daughter asked for the donations as a community service project that goes along with her Paw Paw Fair title duties.

“She had a decent amount,” she said of her daughter’s collections.

“She really liked it,” she said, noting that her daughter wanted to help out kids in need.

Michele was proud of her daughter for making the effort.

“It shows that I’m teaching her the right way to go, and that other people need help as well,” she said. “It’s something good to get involved with.”

Mila said it made her feel good helping others.

Alison Eddy, the PTO president, said the “Stuff the Bus” drive has been a “really good community effort.”

“Stuff the Bus” benefits the Rams Locker, a new program that helps students in need of clothing and hygiene items. The program also benefits the Ram Bags program sponsored by the Rivesville Free Methodist Church, which provides weekend food bags to students in need.

“It’s just a really good thing to help for our community, the kids in need,” she said.

She thought the community response was good.

“A lot of parents are donating, a lot of businesses,” she said. “We’ve done really well.”

She said the initiative is fulfilling an important need.

“We’re a Title I School, so we have a lot of kids who are in need of basic items,” she said.

School Principal Tyson Furgason said the “Stuff the Bus” drive began on Wednesday, noting it collected not only items, but raises awareness of students in need, as well.

“We’re a community school, it’s a small community, and we help out as much as we can,” he said.

He said it’s the first year for the program.

“I’d say for the first year that we’ve done it, it has been a success,” he said. “We have a lot more than we started with.”

He said there was somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 in monetary donations, in addition to the food, clothing and hygiene items.

He said there were items on every seat of the bus, but there were also four or five boxes of clothes in the basement that were dropped off before the bus was brought in.

Furgason said some hotels in Morgantown also donated items that a parent had made arrangements for.

“So, it’s been a pretty good turnout for the first year of doing it,” he said.

He said there is a need for the items.

“We have kids that need things, and we want to be able to support them as much as we can, create that good, positive connection with the school,” he said.

He said the idea for “Stuff the Bus” came from a very generous donor who lives in Ohio. Furgason said Rick Parker, who is a Rivesville High School alumni.

“He kind of helped us get the ball rolling with it with some donations from himself,” he said.

Assistant Principal Chris Binotto said the success of “Stuff the Bus” wasn’t a surprise, considering how well the community has been involved. “The community continues to support the students here, and we’re very appreciative."

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549, or ehrin@timeswv.com.

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