FULTON • Home Depot delivered the first of hundreds of 5-gallon buckets packed with cleaning supplies destined for schools across Northeast Mississippi, Thursday.

A group of 10 Tupelo Home Depot employees volunteered Wednesday morning to fill 420 buckets with cleaning supplies for seven local schools. Every school approved for a grant of around $3,000 through the Home Depot Foundation will receive 60 buckets.

Each bucket includes three packs of Kleen Freak antibacterial wipes, a canister of Clorox wipes, two Zep sanitizer spray bottles and three rolls of paper towels.

Tommy Davis, sales associate at the Tupelo Home Depot store, said he volunteered to give back to the community.

“My wife and I just got over COVID and it is tough,” Davis said. “Any type of protection for school kids has got to be a good thing.”

“I want the kids to be safe,” said Yrerey Perez, cashier at the Tupelo Home Depot store. “I want them to have a clean classroom just like I did when I went to school and for them to have a good environment to learn and serve the community like I am today.”

The first 60 buckets were delivered to Itawamba Agricultural High School (IAHS) on Thursday morning. After the two pallets of buckets were unloaded, a group of students and teachers carried the buckets to a common area to be distributed across the school.

IAHS Principal Rick Mitchell said anyone working in an educational setting is stressed out during the pandemic and receiving the cleaning supplies will help relieve some of that stress.

“It’s a pat on the back and it’s something that helps (teachers) to make sure that we keep the kids safe,” Mitchell said. “The kids, it helps them mentally in that they know that we have the stuff there and the teachers are using it. So it’s a relief to them in that aspect.”

The school has used CARES Act money to purchase cleaning supplies in the past, and teachers have had to cover the cost of some cleaning products, as they often do even during a normal school year.

Anna Beth Thomas, a resource instructor at IAHS, was happy to receive the supplies from Home Depot.

“The fact that they are supporting us tells us that they care and want us to be here,” Thomas said.

Typically, Home Depot Foundation projects involve going out into the community and completing projects, according to Latoya Fields, Team Depot captain and pro sales supervisor at Tupelo Home Depot.

Like so many other things, the pandemic changed that. Instead, employees at the Tupelo store helped with “parking lot kitting” as part of the Home Depot Foundation’s Operation Surprise campaign — a program to pack buckets with supplies for veterans, first responders, health care workers and teachers.

Fields said this campaign cuts down on potential employee and community exposure to COVID-19 while executing the project, but still allows the store to help the community.

Delivery of buckets for the first seven schools began on Thursday and will continue on Friday and Monday. Items for the remaining schools should arrive by next Wednesday, and those buckets will be packed on Thursday for delivery the following day.

Schools who missed out on this round of grant funding can begin the process of applying for the next round beginning on Feb. 1 by contacting Tupelo Home Depot management.

Full list of local schools that received grants:

  • Smithville High School $2,780
  • Tupelo Public School District $3,050
  • Dorsey Attendance Center - $3,000
  • South Pontotoc High School $2,965
  • Guntown Middle School $2,965
  • Belle Shivers/Aberdeen Elementary $2,965
  • Tremont Attendance Center $2,956
  • Itawamba Agricultural High School $3,000
  • Mantachie High School $2,800
  • Ramer Elementary School $2,840

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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