With local and area schools scheduled to begin in only a few weeks, many Franklin County families are already loading up on school supplies, new clothing and other items to get the year started off right.

But for many families already having a tough time making ends meet, the thought of purchasing supplies, or even a new pair of shoes, is daunting.

But the United Way of Franklin County Association is hoping to make it a little easier thanks to the United Way/Wal-Mart Fill the Bus Initiative. The program supports local children by helping them start school with confidence by giving them the tools they need to succeed.

From now through Aug. 4, organizers are hoping to fill the bus full of school supplies, clothing, healthy snacks, shoes, coats, hygiene products and other necessary items can be donated at the Ottawa Wal-Mart Supercenter, 2101 S. Princeton St. All items donated will be distributed to Franklin County youth by ECKAN and Communities in Schools.

Besides donations, organizers are also needing volunteers available for a two-hour shift to hand out school supply lists to Wal-Mart shoppers. For more information on how to help, contact the Franklin County United Way Association office at 785-418-2015 or by email at united.way.of.franklin.co@gmail.com.