Aboard a school bus in Greenwood, students will soon be able to get school supplies, food, coats and even a haircut.
That’s because Greenwood Education Foundation, the charitable fundraising arm of Greenwood Community School Corporation, purchased a 15-passenger minibus for $13,500 in October with a private donation. After the seats are uninstalled from the bus, foundation members will be able to fill it with different supplies for different occasions. The unique set of wheels will allow those supplies and services to reach students for whom transportation is a barrier.
Foundation members hope to have the bus ready to serve students by the beginning of next school year, said Tiffany Woods, the foundation’s president.
The purchase is in line with the goals of the Greenwood Education Foundation’s Cares initiative. This year, through the Cares program, the foundation has provided more than $3,000 worth of new coats for children in need, worked with Great Harvest Food Pantry for food distribution and partnered with barbers from Greenwood’s Nomad Barber Shop, who provided free haircuts for students, she said.
“The Cares program has three main areas of focus: food, clothing and mental health,” Woods said during a fundraising event in February. “Through our efforts, we discovered our number one barrier preventing us from reaching people was transportation.”
Once the bus begins operations, it can be a vehicle for change for children in need throughout the Greenwood community, she said.
“We’re hoping to partner with local churches, stores and organizations to host a couple of Stock the Bus events. We would love to park it in front of Meijer so people can donate school supplies and in front of a church so people can donate coats and cash so the barbers who operate out of the bus can be paid,” Woods said.
Foundation leaders may also join forces with the Greenwood Public Library to help get children signed up for library cards, she said.
As coordinator for the Great Harvest Food Pantry, Melissa Rojas has worked with Greenwood Education Foundation on numerous food distribution grab-and-go events. The foundation and the pantry split the cost of food items, Rojas said.
“One in five families are struggling with food insecurity,” Rojas said. “A lot of kids in schools depend on lunch and free breakfast programs. When school is on break, grab-and-go events provide food for students when they’re off. We love the heart (the foundation) has not only for the education of their students, but their overall well-being. It’s an honor to partner with them and be a part of what they’re doing.”
With the bus, barbers can provide haircuts and a confidence boost for children, said Jay Wilson, Nomad Barber Shop’s owner.
“I think it’s very important for adults and kids. The first thing people see is your smile and your hair,” Wilson said. “We’re there for your wedding, your family pictures, everything. Kids love it, especially if they haven’t had a haircut in a long time. It’s like getting a new pair of shoes.”
To donate to Greenwood Education Foundation, visit greenwoodeducaitonfoundation.org