CRYSTAL LAKE – Area residents can help McHenry County school children in need Sunday at the Crystal Lake Wal-Mart during the Salvation's Army Stuff the Bus event.
Salvation Army's annual back-to-school event encourages residents to buy school supplies to help fill backpacks for children in need. Some of the most needed materials this year include pens, colored pencils, folders, spiral notebooks and three-ring binders.
The event, which will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wal-Mart on 1205 S. Rt. 31 in Crystal Lake, will be hosted by STAR 105.5 and feature a performance by a steel drum band.
Linda Hunter-West, community development coordinator for the Crystal Lake Salvation Army, said the event is in its ninth year and has become an important staple for the growing amount of families in need. Last year, the event helped 1,300 students from kindergarten through 12th grade get the supplies they needed.
"This year's event will be a little bigger than we've ever done," Hunter-West said. "The majority of supplies we'll get for students are going to come from this event."
Capt. Carol Lewis, the corps officer for the Crystal Lake Salvation Army, said more families than ever before are eligible for the service and she would not be surprised if last year's 1,300 students served grows to more than 1,500.
But while the demand grows, she said she is confident the communities will provide the supply.
"Crystal Lake has a wonderful continuum of care between organizations," Lewis said. "It's a great community where people really get behind each other when there is a need."
For those who cannot make Sunday's event, locations throughout the county will accept donations and donations can be made online at www.salarmycl.org, which also provides a list of locations.
Families who need assistance can see if they are eligible at the same website or call 815-455-2769. The Salvation Army will begin distributing school supplies to families the week of Aug. 4.