Operation School Supplies Campaign Celebrates 20 Years

Reading, writing and arithmetic are still fundamentals of a child’s education. Yet many local children will return to school this fall lacking the necessary supplies to help them succeed.

Now Houstonians, including the University of Houston community, can help provide essential school supplies to thousands of local children by participating in the 20th Annual Operation School Supplies (OSS), which was created in 1990 by the UH Alumni Association and the Houston Coca-Cola Bottling Co. This year’s campus drive runs through Aug. 13.

During the campus OSS drive, faculty, staff and students can drop off supplies in collection bins at various locations  including at E. Cullen, the University Center, the Cullen College of Engineering, the Welcome Center, the Cameron building, and Rooms 136 and 138 in Fleming Hall. Cougars also can make a financial contribution by visiting http://www.alumniconnections.com/olc/pub/UHU/alumni_programs/programs_31.html.

The campus drive is part of the citywide OSS, which runs through Aug. 4. During the citywide OSS, participants can support the drive by picking up an OSS coupon at the checkout counter at any H-E-B Houston-area stores to add a donation to their grocery purchase. Prepackaged bags of new school supplies are available for purchase and can be dropped in an OSS donation bin. Additionally, each time any Coca-Cola product is purchased at H-E-B during the campaign, the Houston Coca-Cola Bottling Co. will donate a portion of the proceeds to OSS.

New school supplies also can be dropped off at H-E-B Bunker Hill from 6 a.m. - 1 p.m., Wednesday, July 28 to help stuff the bus with donations. In addition, on Aug 1, Houstonians may drop off school supplies and financial donations at the Astros baseball game against the Milwaukee  Brewers. Individuals can also sponsor a school for $25 and a school district for $100.

"As a founding partner of Operation School Supplies, the University of Houston Alumni Association is so proud to see the program enter its 20th year in a position of strength and ever-increasing influence," said Tonja Jones, UH Alumni Association vice president of alumni and student programs. "OSS succeeds because of the generosity of this community, these sponsors and more than 200,000 University of Houston alumni who commit to the program. We fully expect this summer’s campaign to be the best yet."

OSS has grown to reach 330 schools in 31 area school districts this year. Districts that benefit include Houston, Aldine, Alief, Tomball and Waller. Since its inception, the program has raised more than $1.75 million for the purchase of school supplies for elementary school students.

The drive also is co-sponsored by The United Way of Greater Houston and supported by partners FOX 26/My20 and Clear Channel/Sunny 99.1, IBC Bank and the Houston Astros.

"Operation School Supplies gives many elementary school students in the greater Houston area the material foundation they need to start the new school year off with a bang," said Rick Kehr, market unit vice president for Houston Coca-Cola Bottling Co. "Coca-Cola has made a long-term commitment to giving back to our community
by supporting youth and education. 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of this program with our friends at the
University of Houston Alumni Association."

"Although many kids are still thinking about sleeping in late and summer day camp, we are focused on preparing
them for the upcoming school year," said Cyndy Garza-Roberts, public affairs director for H-E-B Houston. "With our partners, we can provide thousands of local children with the school supplies they need through the annual Operation School Supplies campaign to get them started on the right foot."

Staff reports