July marks the official start of United Way of Summit County’s Stuff the Bus school supplies drive. Now in its sixth year, Stuff the Bus mobilizes thousands of individuals and dozens of local companies to collect, sort, pack and distribute backpacks full of school supplies to Akron Public Schools (APS) students. United Way expects 2019 to be a milestone year for Stuff the Bus – the first time the organization will be able to distribute school supplies at every APS elementary school.
The collection drive will continue through August, capping off with a sort-a-thon on August 21. That day, volunteers will sort the thousand of donated supplies – including pencils, pens, notebooks and notes of encouragement – and pack them into brand new backpacks, which will be distributed by volunteers on September 4. Those interested in requesting a collection bin or volunteering should visit uwsummit.org/volunteer.
Stuff the Bus, which is sponsored by Steere Enterprises, supports United Way of Summit County’s Bold Goals by 2025. By ensuring students have the tools they need to succeed in the classroom, Stuff the Bus supports the United Way’s Bold Goal 1 – to boost third grade reading proficiency among APS students – and Bold Goal 2 – to increase the number of APS students graduating high school in four years and raise college/career readiness among graduates.
Last year, Stuff the Bus brought together 52 companies and collected enough supplies to fill 7,350 backpacks – one for every student at 23 of APS’s 28 elementary schools. With more companies committed to supporting the drive in 2019, United Way is confident it will be able to expand backpack delivery to the remaining elementary schools, for an estimated total of more than 10,500 students.
“The remarkable growth we have seen in Stuff the Bus is thanks to the hard work of our partners and volunteers,” said Julie Caruso, associate vice president of community engagement for United Way of Summit County. “They are passionate about this community and the children who represent its future. And we will continue to channel that hard work and that passion in ways that improve the lives of everyone who calls Summit County their home.”