The Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program awarded Independent Living Services a $2,675 grant to help purchase a large transit bus for its consumers. 

Independent Living Services is a private nonprofit agency in Conway that serves people in the community with intellectual disabilities, assisting in daily life skills. 

ILS applied for the grant in August to match two grants from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department for the purchase of a Ford E450 bus. The bus, according to Director of Development for ILS Bobby Kelly, will serve as a visual representation to the community of how the organization has grown. 

“We’re not a small mom and pop non-profit anymore. We’re the real deal.” The bus will be used primarily to transport consumers in the Greenbrier area to Conway and surrounding cities to attend medical appointments, day-school programs, work programs, shopping and leisure activities. Kelly said ILS’s consumer base has grown about 10 percent every year for the past four years. 

“That’s why getting the bus is necessary. It won’t be completely full when we start using it, but it will take care of any projected need as we grow.” Kelly also said the money would go into the same pot as general fundraisers and the transportation fund. According to Walmart’s Web site, Walmart supported global organizations with nearly $530 million in charitable contributions in 2009. Kelly said Walmart gives to Arkansas more than any other state. In 2008, Walmart and its Foundation gave more than $72 million to local Arkansas organizations. Funds from customers and associates make the retailer’s contributions more than $82.7 million. Kelly said he would be applying for more grants from the Walmart Foundation in the future. 

Chief Executive Officer of ILS Jackie Fliss said, “Each year the need for transportation increases as more people seek services and as they become more independent and involved in the community. We are excited to receive this generous gift from the Walmart Foundation and appreciate their support.”

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached at 505-1236 or by E-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)