PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The sight of multiple fire trucks sitting outside Walmart on University in Peoria on Thursday was not a sign for distress, but rather a call to action to help local students get ready to go back to school.
The “Fill the Fire Truck” campaign, coordinated by the Tri-County Urban League, Peoria Fire Department, Peoria Firefighters Local 50 and Peoria Afro-American Firefighters, is a school supply drive to make sure students have all the tools they need for the new school year.
Firefighters and fire trucks will be stationed outside Walmart on University and Target on Big Hollow on July 9, 17 and 24 to collect donations.
The donated supplies will fill backpacks to be given to Peoria Public Schools students at the Tri-County Urban League’s ‘Back to School Bash’ on July 30.
“We never want them to feel less than. We want there to be a sense of equity. We want them to all have the supplies they need for a good day, we want them to be able to learn. We don’t want them to worry about whether or not they have what they need to be successful,” said Dawn Harris Jeffries, president and CEO of Tri-County Urban League.
Jeffries said she is reminded of growing up without all the tools she needed.
“I can remember days when I didn’t have what I needed for school so it just reminds me of those days and I know that kid will not have to worry in the same way that I did, so this is just really exciting for me,” she said. “There were times when I wanted certain things I just didn’t get at all, where I may have looked over to the person on my left or right and they had all of those things. I don’t want… I know those kids won’t feel that way.”
Firefighters donated $500 worth of school supplies to kick things off.
“Its always great when we get involved with things like this because that’s what we are at nature. We love donating and giving back to the community,” said Interim Assistant Fire Chief Rick Scott.
“What’s cool too is we are two Peoria products, went through the school system… This our way…it’s very natural for us to give back,” added Interim Fire Chief Shawn Sollberger.
Jeffries said she hopes to fill at least 6,000 backpacks. Donations can also be dropped off at the Tri-County Urban League or any Peoria Fire Station.