By Madeline Bisaccia
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans Women's Association joined United Way of Metropolitan Nashville for their "Stuff the Bus" campaign on Wednesday, greeting first through fourth grade students at Napier Park Elementary School with a backpack full of brand new school supplies as they entered the classroom for the first day of school.
The Titans and United Way of Nashville assisted students at Napier Elementary with school supplies on their first day back in the classroom. (Photos: Brittany Selbert)
Stuff the Bus is an ongoing partnership between Bridgestone and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville that has assisted nearly 7,500 at-risk students across eight public schools in the Nashville area this school year.
"You want to make sure every kid, every child, every student has the tools and school supplies so that everyone starts school on the same page," said Eric Dewey, President and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. "They can focus on the same thing we all want to focus on, which is education. The students aren't worried about why they don't have the same stuff, or they don't have pens or pencils. We don't want the teachers to have to worry about any of that either."
In addition to school supplies, children received one-on-one attention from volunteers as they settled into their new environment, one that is often intimidating on the first day.
"It helps our community at a real simple level and it also helps our parents, teachers and partners in the community show how they can make a difference in small way," Dewey said. "A principal once told me that when we show up on the first day of school with the school supplies, that this is what students, teachers, parents [and the school] administration talk about for half a year.
"This changes the culture. Not only did the community think enough to bring in things we needed, they showed up. That is how an event like Stuff the Bus benefits the community."
Each Napier Park teacher also received a back to school surprise in the form of a gift bag from the Tennessee Titans Women's Association.
"It's a great way to show people in our community that we stand behind them," said Tina Tuggle, Titans Director of Community Relations and TTWA co-organizer. "We just wanted to lighten the burden for everyone involved in the back-to-school process."