Monday, August 7, 2023

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: 2,200 Backpacks Filled through the Schuylkill United Way Annual Stuff the Bus

LETTER TO THE EDITOR from the Schuylkill United Way and the 21st Annual Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive.

It starts in late spring with calls to the Partner Agencies of Schuylkill United Way (SUW), all Schuylkill County schools, and to local organizations that serve children in our community. The question asked is how many backpacks – filled with school supplies – does each group need in order to help their students have a successful start to the new school year. 

For 21 years, SUW has run a county-wide school supply drive throughout the month of July. Since 2002, our community has filled over 23,000 backpacks for our students through Stuff the Bus. 

We are thrilled to announce that 2,200 backpacks have been received in total this year, as well as an incredible amount of school supplies! 

SUW staff attribute the success of Stuff the Bus to the generous and hardworking efforts of all involved. “Our goal is to meet the need,” SUW Executive Director Kelly K. Malone stated. “Donations fluctuate. Supply chain and shipping challenges are increasingly difficult to manage. It’s a challenge every year, but we know our community always come through to support our students. We are grateful for the financial support and volunteer power to run such a successful and needed program.” The support from businesses, non-profits, and individual citizens is truly overwhelming! 

“I think the collaboration between Schuylkill United Way, their Partner Agencies, and the community is crucial to best serve those in need. The many, many families who are struggling to make ends meet, despite the fact they are working, they benefit significantly. The money saved by receiving supplies and a book bag from Stuff the Bus can be used for back-to-school clothes or household necessitates.” 

Over 30 businesses and organizations were drop off points for public donations of pencils, markers, and other school supplies. An additional 20 locations, including businesses, nursing homes, hospitals, churches, and civic organizations, hosted Stuff the Bus boxes for their employees to do an internal drive. 

When the Partner Agencies, schools, and other organizations come to pick up their bookbags, each will contain crayons, pencils (donated by Mid-Penn Bank), pens, erasers, folders, notebooks, colored pencils, glue sticks, pencil pouches, scissors, highlighters, hand sanitizer (donated by Geisinger St. Luke’s Hospital & St. Luke’s Hospital - Miners Campus), tissues (donated by Lehigh Valley Hospital - Schuylkill), dry erase markers and a miscellaneous item. SUW is extremely grateful to the companies and individuals who donate supplies to this great cause. 

In order to meet the need for new backpacks and school supplies that are identified in the spring, SUW purchases many of the items. We would like to thank the following corporations for their contributions PPL ($2,500), Boyer’s Food Markets ($2,000), The Benevelant Association ($1,000), The Evans Network of Companies, Inc. ($1,000), Mauch Chunk Trust Company ($200), and the Frackville Senior Center. Special thanks to BG’s Value Market and Beer Shak will be offering icons to their customers. Anonymous individuals donated $475 toward this worthwhile cause. 

Staples generously provided $5.00, pre-packaged school supply boxes exclusively for Stuff the Bus. A total of 419 were purchased by customers, including Mrs. T’s who purchased 50! A big shout out to Jersey Mike’s Subs in St. Clair for not only volunteering, but also donating subs for everyone on Monday during the stuffing process! 

The Schuylkill United Way Partner Agencies that will benefit from your kindness are as follows: American Red Cross, Big Impact Group of Schuylkill County, Boy Scouts of America, Child Development, Inc., Nurse-Family Partnership, Pottsville Salvation Army, SARCC, Schuylkill County Society for Crippled Children, Schuylkill Hope Center for Victims of Domestic Violence, Schuylkill Wellness Services, and Schuylkill YMCA. We are also able to help additional organizations including Jerusalem Day Care, Schuylkill Community Action, 18 schools in the county. There is a great need for school supplies in our community and with this program, we are able to help lessen the financial burden on families who most need our help. 

Thank you for helping our local youth get the school supplies they need for the 2023-2024 school year! 

We thank the following locations for serving as public drop off locations: 
  • Ashland Public Library 
  • Orwigsburg Public Library 
  • Tamaqua Public Library 
  • Pottsville Public Library 
  • Schuylkill Haven Public Library 
  • Boyers Food Market (Frackville, Orwigsburg, Tamaqua) 
  • Cake Pro’s First Citizens Community Bank (Schuylkill Haven, Friedensburg) 
  • Geisinger/St. Luke's Hospital 
  • Hidden River Credit Union (Hometown, Orwigsburg, Pottsville) 
  • Hope & Coffee 
  • J. Bertolet Volkswagen 
  • Mauch Chunk Trust Company 
  • Mother Bear's Candy (Rt. 183 Schuylkill Haven) 
  • Mid Penn Bank (Cressona, Minersville, Orwigsburg, Pottsville) 
  • Mother Bears Candy 
  • Northeast Edge Assoc. 
  • Pine Grove Pharmacy 
  • The Primary Health Network 
  • Republican Herald 
  • Saint Luke’s Hospital – Miners Campus 
  • Salvation Army – Pottsville Corps 
  • Schuylkill County Treasurer’s Office 
  • Schuylkill YMCA 
Companies and organizations hosting internal supply drives among their employees play a major role in Stuff the Bus success. 

Thank you to the following: 
  • Amazon - Bethel, PA 
  • Access Services 
  • Eastern Schuylkill Democratic Club 
  • The Evans Network of Companies, Inc. 
  • Frackville Senior Center 
  • Hershey Foods 
  • Hexcel 
  • Honeywell 
  • Hydro 
  • Jeld-Wen 
  • Lehigh Valley Hospital - Schuylkill 
  • MAE-Eitel, Inc. 
  • Providence Place (Pine Grove) 
  • Saint John’s Church - Auburn 
  • Service Access Management (SAM) 
  • Schuylkill IU #29 
  • Shalmet 
  • TE Connectivity 
  • Trinity Lutheran Church