The kind of people who organize school supply drives

Wellness
Children in school

Children in school

For a guy who doesn’t have kids, Tom DelSolia sure is an expert on school supplies.

And not just the basic composition books and glue sticks, but the needed items the average person might not think about when school supply shopping – tissues, Band-Aids, socks, Ziploc bags.

Every August, he packs trucks with loads of all of the above and more – donated by Tidelands Health through the health system’s annual school supply drive – and delivers them to nearby schools for teachers to distribute to the students who need them the most. Through the years, they’ve come to count on the jam-packed trucks from Tidelands Health.

“They realize who you are and where you are from – they are almost expecting you,” said DelSolia, the food service manager at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital who has helped lead the school supply drive since it started about seven years ago. “You see the teachers and just the stress relief they get that they have these things for their students.”

Tom Delsolia

Tom Delsolia

DelSolia is gearing up for this year’s Tidelands Health “Stuff the Bus” drive, which kicks off July 9. Employee partners throughout the health system will donate items that in turn will be delivered to several local schools, including St. James Elementary School, St. James Middle School, Seaside Elementary School, Burgess Elementary School and Georgetown Middle School.

Derrick Grove, who recently was promoted to operations manager of food service at Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital, has helped with the drive for years organizing the items and loading them in delivery trucks, but this will be his first time leading the effort at Tidelands Georgetown.

“This program is a part of what we do,” Grove said. “For some of the parents in this area, they want to try to afford it and they just can’t. It’s very important to try to get it for them and help them out as much as we can.”

Grove – who has four kids, only his youngest still in high school – remembers the lengthy school supply lists his kids brought him – and trying to juggle finances to buy everything they needed.

“I had to come up with the money. Sometimes I had to decide which was priority,” he said.

Derrick Grove

Derrick Grove

Grove’s family would help; some relatives became masters of buying in bulk outside the typical supply-buying season when items were on sale to use the following year.

Last year, donations made at Tidelands Waccamaw filled two massive trucks. The delivery process takes all day.

“I’m tired. It’s hot. I’m sweaty. But you just feel like you did right,” DelSolia said. “I feel good.”

Sign me up for email updates

Sign up below to receive email updates from MyCarolinaLife.