Many children look forward to arriving on the first day of school with new notebooks, backpacks and pencil boxes.

However, it is a different story for children whose families cannot afford these items, according to Cortney Christenson, Stuff the Bus coordinator for United Way of Fort Smith Area.

On July 26-27, United Way is asking for help in stuffing a bus full of supplies to be donated to children in the six-county area United Way serves.

Donations of new school supplies will be accepted at area Walmart stores, including Alma and Van Buren.

"If everyone could pick up some of the items listed on the school supply list on their way to the checkout and drop it by the bus, it would make a huge difference to kids in need when classes begin," Christenson said.

Volunteers will staff the buses to assist patrons who wish to donate supplies.

"A complete list of suggested items will be given to you as you enter the store," Christenson said.

In 2012, more than 44,000 packages of new school supplies were collected. The donated items were given to school districts and United Way partner agencies.

"Not only do the donated supplies help children with their studies, having a new backpack or notebook can really help raise a child’s self-esteem," Christenson said. "Feeling good about themselves and having the tools they need to complete their schoolwork really helps children get off on the right foot as they start a new school year."

A school bus will be located at Alma, Booneville, Fort Smith, Greenwood, Ozark, Paris, Poteau, Van Buren and Sallisaw Walmart locations on July 26 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and July 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"Your donation will make a difference in a child’s life," Christenson said.

For more information, contact Christenson at (479) 782-1311 or

The United Way of Fort Smith Area serves Crawford, Franklin, Logan and Sebastian counties in Arkansas and LeFlore and Sequoyah counties in Oklahoma. United Way provides funding to 33 community partner agencies in the six-county area.