GONZALES - Missy Delatte and Kristi Gueho were part of a group of about a dozen Spanish Lake Primary School teachers braving the heat July 20 outside Office Depot in Gonzales.

During their 2-hour shift at Volunteer Ascension’s annual “Stuff the Bus” drive, they accepted donations, most bought inside the store, and helped pack them into buses parked outside.

They came out to help, Gueho said, in part because they’ll benefit from the supplies that are being collected.

Every year, once school starts, there are some students who, for whatever reason, come to school without needed supplies, said Sherry Denig, director of Volunteer Ascension.

Each teacher assesses what supplies they need, Gueho said, and fills out requests that are delivered soon after.

“In years past, this would come out of our pockets,” and leaving that added worry behind allows teachers to focus their full attention on their classes, Delatte said.

For the third year, Denig said, Volunteer Ascension has partnered with WBRZ to fill buses with school supplies - everything from markers, binders, paper and pencils to tissues and paper towels - and it’s been an unbridled success.

They filled three buses with 52,238 items, with a total value of $18,664 - including a delivery of about 150 backpacks.

The next day, Denig asked volunteers to come to Central Middle School to unpack and organize the supplies in an empty classroom.

“We had volunteers coming out of the woodwork,” Denig said. All told, Denig estimates about 100 volunteers helped with the labor.

The work was done in about an hour, she said. “We had a football team coming to help, and I had to call them about 8:45 (a.m. on July 21) and tell them not to come, because we had so many people there.”

The effort is one phase of collection for the School Tools program, Denig said. Another drive will be conducted on Saturday in front of every Wal-mart in Ascension Parish - the Gonzales, Prairieville and Donaldsonville stores - and Office Depot.

In addition to the donated supplies, Denig said, Volunteer Ascension is accepting monetary donations, which the organization will use to fill out supplies once the tally is complete.

Denig said Grainger Industrial Supply donated $5,000 to the School Tools campaign before the drives began.

“That’s really a game-changer for us,” she said. Grainger also donated $5,000 to the organization’s school uniform drive.