Herald Photo / Provided
STUFF THE BUS  — The Stuff the Bus campaign helps provide needed supplies to local schools, allowing teachers the opportunity to help students in need.
Herald Photo / Provided STUFF THE BUS — The Stuff the Bus campaign helps provide needed supplies to local schools, allowing teachers the opportunity to help students in need.
Beginning Aug. 14, Windmill Grill’s annual Stuff the Bus campaign will kick off at the restaurant’s location (2335 W. Sycamore St.) to help gather school supplies for students in need from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. each day that week.

Windmill Grill owners Carol and Tom Trine first began the Stuff the Bus campaign when they were visiting Jacksonville, Fla.

“Almost 20 years ago, while in Jacksonville, Fla., Carol and I saw a piece on a local TV station where a group of local restaurants were giving away ice cream treats to customers that brought in pencils, pens or other school supplies,” Tom said. “We lived in Fargo, N.D., at the time where I was director of operations for a restaurant group of over 20 locations, and Carol was the marketing coordinator. We altered the concept a bit since we did not have drive-thru windows at any of our locations to include a school bus to collect the supplies and named it ‘Stuff the Bus.’”

The Trines brought the concept to Kokomo when they moved here. Roughly eight years ago, they began the Stuff the Bus program that has reached other groups who have begun similar campaigns.

Each day of the week from Aug. 14 to 18, a different Howard County school system will be the beneficiary of the Stuff the Bus campaign at Windmill Grill. Eastern will receive the supplies collected on Aug. 14, with Northwestern benefiting Aug. 15. Kokomo will be the recipient on Aug. 16 with Western on Aug. 17 and Taylor on Aug. 18. 

Windmill Grill will give a free order of fresh-baked Heartland buttermilk biscuits and house-made sausage gravy to each person who donates school supplies of any value as a token of appreciation.

“The greatest reward is knowing that a contribution to our youth and their education has taken place,” Tom said.

The goal is to collect school supplies that go directly to Howard County schools. The supplies are made available to the teachers who know the greatest need for their students. Trine said that some programs require proof of need, which can hinder some students from receiving the assistance they need to be successful in the classroom. All of the items on the bus go directly to the schools and educators for distribution to the students.

Participants in the Stuff the Bus campaign at Windmill Grill only need to drop the items off at the restaurant between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. on any day they wish to benefit students of their chosen school system or any day if no school preference is declared. There will be a dedicated bus parked on the lot to collect the supplies for the students.