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Kitsap Mall school supply drive is hottest trend in back-to-school shopping

For six years now every summer, Doug Sander has been backing up a school bus into the Kitsap Mall’s North Court. It is a half-hour process that he begins after the mall closes, maneuvering the yellow bus through the mall gate which leaves a 3-inch clearance on either side, at the tightest spot.

But Sander keeps volunteering for the tough parking job.

“As long as there’s something beneficial for the kids,” he said “we’re more than happy to provide the bus.”

This year was no different as Sander, Central Kitsap School District’s director of transportation, drove the bus in again for a school supply drive.

The CKSD school bus serves as an attention-grabbing marketing tool for the mall’s first annual school supply drive through Aug. 31.

“The mall has been a tremendous supporter of the schools,” Sander said.

All school supplies raised in the drop box near the bus and in a schoolhouse drop box, created by Girl Scouts and set up in the center court, will stay local.

“CK is the only (school district) we’re working with just because we wanted to start the program on a manageable scale,” said Kitsap Mall spokeswoman Stacey Ames.

And more specifically, anything from paper and color pencils to calculators and blank CDs will go to the supply closets of CKSD instructors in their first five years of teaching.

“They’re the lowest paid, they’re starting (their supply stash) from scratch, so that’s who we’re hoping to get the supplies to,” Ames said.

A nation-wide survey by The Macerich Company, parent company of Kitsap Mall, helped determine which teachers would need the supplies most.

The survey was a result of a community audit the company does every other year to determine what it is educational, governmental and non-profit organizations need help with.

“Overwhelmingly across the nation education was the highest priority,” Ames said.

According to the survey, teachers spend an average of $475 annually of their personal money on classroom supplies, while parents pay about $100.

Macerich introduced its Teachers Supply Closet program earlier this year. The back-to-school supply drive through the end of the month is one of a few activities planned. Another is an Educator Discount Card for teachers and school district employees to use for special discounts at select stores in the mall. A Friends and Family Fundraising

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