The San Diego community continued to show its resilience and generosity during challenging times as just over $100,000 was collected online and at check-out stands at Ralphs and Food 4 Less grocery stores to purchase school supplies for students experiencing homelessness during the seventh annual Stuff the Bus school supplies drive.
This year, monetary donations were gathered to purchase backpacks filled with school supplies during an eight-week campaign coordinated by the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU), in partnership with iHeartMedia radio stations. The 7,977 backpacks and 120 supply kits purchased collectively included approximately 340,000 individual supplies, 3,046 Passion Planners, and 27,825 face masks. Approximately $8,000 from the campaign will be donated to San Diego Youth Services food programs for homeless youth. More than 20,000 school-age children were identified as homeless during the 2019-20 school year.
“Continuing through the pandemic with so many in our communities still experiencing challenges of their own, people recognize the importance of ensuring students experiencing homelessness are equipped with the necessary items to return to school,” said County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. “We are so appreciative for the donations and compassion shown by our community to support our students."
Donations received helped to fill 100% of the requests that were received by SDCOE’s Homeless Education Services, which came from 28 school districts and 30 charter schools. Homelessness affects students from all across San Diego County, and for school-age children, can mean living in a shelter, living in a car or trailer, or sharing a residence with other families. Young people who leave school without a diploma or equivalent are 4 1/2 times more likely to experience homelessness as a young adult. Providing them with backpacks full of supplies is just one way the community can help them to stay in school.
“We are so proud and thankful to the community for their support to enable us to meet the needs of thousands of students experiencing homelessness throughout San Diego County. The success of this year’s drive will allow the students to return to school this fall feeling prepared,” said SDCCU President and CEO Teresa Campbell. “We are so grateful to all the generous donors who help make this school supply drive more and more successful every year.”
Due to the pandemic, this is the second consecutive year the Stuff the Bus campaign has relied on monetary donations to purchase school supplies. In the past, thousands of supplies were collected and placed in backpacks for students.
In 2020, the Stuff the Bus campaign raised $130,900 and filled 7,724 backpacks with supplies for San Diego County students.