It can be infuriating to wonder why something you consider intolerable is allowed to happen repeatedly. (Yes, this covers a LOT of territory.)

This is particularly true when there is no reason for it to continue and those who are in a position to do something about it either ignore it or say “Our hands are tied.” (Or, in the case of Congress, blame members of the other party.)

The situation is left for someone else to deal with.

That’s why teachers buy school supplies for their students and organizations like United Way of Allegany County ask private citizens to donate them. (See: “Stuff the Bus ... ,” Aug. 5 Times-News, Page 7B.)

If this isn’t done, some kids may not have even a pencil or paper to write on.

Individually, we can’t solve this problem, but we can at least chip away at it. That’s why it’s good to Stuff the Bus. You have until Aug. 15 to do it, and we’ll tell how to do that later on.

Some children come from families that have trouble feeding themselves, let alone buy writing materials, backpacks or other items that many students take for granted because their families have enough money to buy them.

More than 50% of the students in Allegany County Public Schools are eligible for free or reduced priced meals. In some areas of the county that can be as high as 80%.

All students at Westernport, George’s Creek, South Penn and John Humbird elementary schools received free breakfasts and lunches this past school year under a federal program.

The youngsters will be fed, but may have to do without some of the materials they need to get an education. Hungry children don’t do well in school, and neither do those who can’t write down what the teacher is telling them.

That’s why teachers in many places spend their own money on school supplies for students who otherwise would do without. In some cases, this amounts to hundreds of dollars a year.

Teachers who walked off the job in West Virginia and other states to demand better pay and benefits have cited the fact that they find it necessary to pay for their students’ school supplies.

We’re not in a position to say how much this happens in Allegany County or nearby counties in Maryland and West Virginia, but we know that it does.

In an April 11, 2018, Times-News story, three student-teachers discussed the matter. They were in a position to know.

One said a lot of teachers “reach into their own pockets to buy supplies for their students.”

Another said “Teachers aren’t asking for enough money so they can drive a Mercedes to school. They want enough to meet the obligations of their families.” She said starting teachers in the Western Maryland counties make in the high $30,000s.

The third said that during their walkout, some of the West Virginia teachers “wanted to be with their kids. They met with some of them in libraries. Some teachers packed lunches and put them in backpacks so the kids would have them over the weekend.”

Items you can donate to Stuff the Bus include backpacks, binders, pocket folders (with and without prongs), spiral notebooks (one, three and five subjects), notebook paper, pens, pencils, highlighters, safety scissors, boxes of tissues, washable markers, colored pencils, crayons, glue sticks, rulers, book covers, index cards, composition books and disinfecting wipes.

Monetary donations will be used to buy additional supplies.

Items collected will be given to the Allegany County Board of Education to help children throughout the school year in all elementary and middle public schools. Supplies will  be shared with Calvary Christian Academy and branches of the Allegany County Library System.

Collection boxes for donated items will be in place until Aug. 15 when they will be picked up. 

Drop zones are First United Bank & Trust, all locations; Cumberland City Hall; Allegany County Department of Social Services; ACT 1st Federal Credit Union, all locations; HRDC senior centers, Westernport, Frostburg, Georges Creek and Cumberland; HRDC main office; Allegany County Detention Center lobby; St. John’s Episcopal Church, Frostburg; Allegany County Health Department; Dollar General, Frostburg; Med Express; CareFirst; Allegany Arts Council; Rehab 1st; CBIZ; Subway, LaVale and Frostburg; Chessie Federal Credit Union, all locations; Allegany Radio; Belt Construction; United Country Real Estate; Allegany College of Maryland Continuing Education Building; YMCA – Riverside; AHEC West; WEPCO Federal Credit Union, Cumberland Theatre; and County United Way.

Contributions also will be collected Aug. 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of Walmart and Staples in LaVale.

For more information, contact United Way of Allegany at 301-722-2700 or michele@cuw.org

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