The United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley kicks off the 5th annual Stuff The Bus today at 9 a.m.

Stuff The Bus initiative collects school supplies for children in need. Once collected, donations are sorted and used to fill backpacks. Those backpacks are then distributed to schools.

This year, 35 schools in Harris, Muscogee and Russell Counties qualify for the donations.

The initiative runs through July 19, and public drop off sites include the Phenix City Library, North Columbus Library and the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley.

Additional donations can also be made online to the United Way.

The United Way will also collect donations on Saturday, July 14, and Saturday July 21, outside the Walmart on Airport Thruway.

When the local United Way started collecting for Stuff The Bus five years ago, they collected supplies for approximately 900 backpacks. In 2017, those collections filled over 5,000 backpacks.

Those collections still aren’t enough for the tri-county area as Muscogee County alone has over 5,600 children in need of supplies.