UW Bucks Stuff The Bus Supplies 3,400 Kids With School Supplies, Masks

Backpacks collected at the First National Bank for Stuff the Bus 2019.

Now in its tenth year, the United Way Bucks “Stuff the Bus” campaign is still growing.

Despite increased costs due to the pandemic, the Stuff the Bus served a record number of children this year.

3,400 young students received backpacks full of school supplies like notebooks and pencils. They also added in earbuds with a built in microphone for each child to help with virtual learning.

Part of the increased cost came from Stuff the Bus giving cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and reusable masks.

But this cost was offset thanks to an $8,000 grant awarded by the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership and funded by Penn Community Bank.

Stuff the Bus Project Manager Katie Matarazzo said some families who had previously donated to the school drive were asking for help this year due to the pandemic. She stated UW Bucks was “grateful that we could provide them with support.”

“The pandemic has really caused a financial hardship for many people. Our families are in a tough spot. Many are experiencing loss of income,” explained Matarazzo. “Some are dealing with unexpected expenses, like the cost of care for school aged children. Either way, they needed help with school supplies.”

In a typical year, hundreds of volunteers would fill Westaby Fire Hall in Fairless Hills to help Stuff the Bus. But social distancing guidelines have made such an event impossible.

Instead, a smaller group took filling all the backpacks into their own hands. The dedicated group of volunteers handled all the packing at the new HELP Center in Bristol Borough.

UW Bucks President and CEO Marissa Christie said some people had asked why the non-profit “pushed forward with Stuff the Bus.”

“People wondered if kids really needed back to school supplies this year. The short answer is yes, whether they are in school or learning virtually, they need supplies. Plus, I think we owe it to our students to communicate in words and actions that school may not be the same, but it is still as important and valued as ever. That is the least we can do.”