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 San Diego County Gives Big for Homeless Students

San Diegans reached deep into their wallets this summer, giving generously to the fourth annual Stuff the Bus school supplies drive, which helps ensure that thousands of needy students were prepared to start the school year right.

More than 231,000 school supplies were donated throughout San Diego County in the six-week Stuff the Bus campaign, conducted by the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU), benefitting students experiencing homelessness. More than 22,000 school-age children were identified as homeless during the 2016-17 school year. 

“It is powerful to see the generosity of our community when it comes to supporting students who need it the most,” said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools. “As a father myself and a longtime educator, I know what a difference it makes to be able to start a new school year with a backpack full of supplies. Being ready to learn lays the foundation for a bright future for every child.”

This year, Stuff the Bus filled the requests of 40 school districts and 21 charter schools. Homelessness affects all of San Diego County, from urban city centers to suburban school districts, from the mountains to the border to the coast. Homelessness for school-age children can mean living in a shelter, living in a car or trailer, or sharing a residence with other families. 

“We collected a record number of supplies this year, which will help thousands of students experiencing homelessness in San Diego start the school year ready to learn and succeed,” said SDCCU President and CEO Teresa Halleck Campbell. “We are so grateful to the community for coming together to support this initiative, thank you to all the donors for their incredible generosity.”

Stuff the Bus included an online component, collection bins at SDCOE and SDCCU sites, iHeartRadio promotions at several local Walmart stores, and the signature feature – two brightly decorated school buses roaming the county collecting donations. Personalities from iHeartRadio stations Channel 93.3, Star 94.1, and JAM’N 95.7 hosted programming at several Walmart stops.

The massive task of sorting the hundreds of thousands of supplies and stuffing backpacks with grade-appropriate materials was covered by volunteers and employees from SDCOE and SDCCU. 

“San Diego is such a generous community,” said Dr. Michelle Lustig, SDCOE’s director of foster youth and homeless education services. “Not only do our friends and neighbors take the time to buy supplies or make monetary donations, they also give their time, sorting through the hundreds of thousands of school supplies and filling backpacks, all to make sure the most vulnerable children in our community can start the school year right.”

By the Numbers

Supplies collected in the 2018 Stuff the Bus drive include: 

  • 6,096 Backpacks

  • 72,176 Crayons

  • 35,280 Pencils

  • 23,992 Markers

  • 12,360 Packs of paper/notebooks

  • 7,380 Glue sticks

  • 11,524 Mechanical pencils

  • 17,486 Pens

  • 11,760 Erasers

  • 5,880 Pencil sharpeners

  • 5,762 Highlighters

  • 5,762 Subject folders

  • 3,805 Passion Planners

  • 2,881 Packs of color pencils

  • 2,981 Binders

  • 2,999 Scissors

  • 2,999 Pencil pouches

  • 2,999 Rulers

  • 2,999 Index cards

  • 390 Arts and crafts supplies