United Way Bucks Stuff the Bus is hoping to meet the needs of 2,500 children in low-income families this year. This means raising $20,000 in just two weeks.

Now in its 10th year, this back-to-school drive has grown to help thousands of kids each summer. And this year may be one of the most demanding.

Like so many other organizations, United Way of Bucks County is adjusting due to the pandemic. With many students returning to some form of in-person learning this fall, their needs have shifted.

Backpacks, pencils, and notebooks are all still vital for the Stuff the Bus campaign. And in the age of COVID-19, parents and students are requesting cleaning supplies as well.

President and CEO at UWBucks Marissa Christie states a recent survey of struggling parents revealed a need for cleaning wipes, disinfectants, and re-usable masks.

“We want to make sure that no matter what school looks like this fall, kids and families are prepared.” Christie said. “Expanding this project beyond school supplies means that the cost of helping each student is higher. But we believe that keeping kids, their families, and the staff at their schools safe is worth it.”

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

In previous years, 300 volunteers gathered at Westaby Fire Hall in Fairless Hills to sort supplies for the grandiose “Back-Pack-A-Thon.” But due to social distancing, this is not an option in 2020.

Unfortunately there will be no backpack-a-thon at Westaby Fire Hall in Fairless Hills due to social distancing, but funds are still needed.

This year, a small group of dedicated volunteers will pack the supplies themselves at the HELP Center.

Registration for assistance is still open, according to Stuff the Bus Project Manager Katie Matarazzo.

“We will have to raise at least another $20,000 in the next two weeks to serve all of these families,” Matarazzo said.

Online donations to Stuff the Bus can be made on the UWBucks website here. Alternatively, checks can be sent to 413 Hood Blvd, Fairless Hills, PA 19030. They must have Stuff the Bus written in the memo line.