March 13 2013 12:00 AM

MSU student-veteran seeks to collect back-to-school supplies for area youths, raise awareness about the need for more campus-based services for veterans

Monday, Aug. 6 — A Michigan State University student and military veteran is using Welcome Week to help meet local kids’ back-to-school needs.

After her eight and a half years in the Air Force, Andrea Norton is pursuing her master’s in social work at MSU. She also landed a fellowship with The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit that promotes community service for post-9/11 veterans.

As part of the capstone project for her fellowship, Norton said she wants to bring together veterans and members of the community to support a worthy cause. She hopes the event, called “Fill the Bus,” will not only collect back-to-school supplies for disadvantaged youths, but also call attention to what she says is a lack of campus-based services for student-veterans.

Donation boxes for the event will be available throughout campus at residence halls and high foot-traffic areas from Aug. 26-30. Goods like school supplies, personal hygiene products and food items will be collected. Volunteers will collect donations on Aug. 31 — in a bus — and distribute them among community organizations, Norton said.

Norton said student-veteran organizations from both LCC and MSU have expressed interest in participating in the event. She needs one-third of the volunteers to be veterans to fulfill her capstone requirement.

“I like it because it’s something that volunteers of all ability levels and ages can participate in,” she said. “I wanted to do something that was associated with my fellowship and could bring awareness to veterans issues. It’s on campus and can hopefully increase the visibility of student-veterans on campus, so we can get more coordinated services.”

Donations will be given to and then redistributed by the Black Child and Family Institute, Cristo Rey Community Center, East Lansing School District, Greater Lansing Food Bank, Lansing City Rescue Mission, Lansing School District, Mid-Michigan Food Bank, MSU Family Resource Center, MSU Student Food Bank and the Lansing Refugee Development Center.

“It’s a great way for everyone to help out their community and will help ensure all the kids in the area have what they need to be successful,” she said.

For those interested in volunteering, sign up for the event here.