Backpack-A-Thon Begins For United Way Stuff The Bus

Volunteers and representatives from local businesses, school districts, and political offices gather for the 2018 Stuff the Bus ribbon cutting. Photo by Rick Rickman.
Volunteers in assembly lines put supplies in backpacks. Photo by Rick Rickman.

More than 300 volunteers are working in shifts today at Westaby Hall in Fairless Hills to put together backpacks for disadvantaged children as part of the United Way of Bucks County Backpack-a-Thon.

For several months, United Way of Bucks campaigned for new school supplies for the Stuff the Bus program. Last Thursday, 50 volunteers sorted and took inventory of all the pencils, notebooks, and backpacks people donated for children who struggle with basic needs like food and shelter.

Director of Community and Volunteer Engagement Danielle Bush opened the event with almost 100 people standing in front of Fairless Hills Fire Department fire engines.

Danielle Bush speaks to the first wave of volunteers at Westaby Hall. Photo by Rick Rickman.

“This is our largest Stuff the Bus in United Way history,” Danielle said to cheers and whistles. “At the end of the day, we are going to be packing 3,300 backpacks for children across Bucks County.”

The number of children helped by the program increased by about 700 since last year, and more than 2,900 since its inception seven years ago. Each backpack cost roughly $35 for all the supplies.

State Representatives Frank Farry of the 142nd district and Helen Tai of the 178th district attended the event to show their support for United Way of Bucks County and Stuff the Bus and participate in the ribbon cutting.

Fire engines sit outside Westaby Hall while backpacks are filled within. Photo by Rick Rickman.

Representative Farry is also the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company Chief and weighed in on his peers hosting the event at Westaby Hall.

“I think it’s very kind of the Fairless Hills Fire Department to open their doors up to provide the space for this project,” Farry said. “They have the parking, they have the room, and I think it’s great. They’re a great group of folks here.”

Representative Tai, who won in a special election in May, campaigned on securing funding for public schools.

“One of the things I’ve said to everyone is I believe everyone should have access to good quality public education,” Tai said. “What folks here are doing today is really important because so many children don’t have what they need.”

The backpacks will now be distributed to schools throughout Bucks County for the children who need them the most.