It’s been a year like no other, but the San Diego community showed its resilience and generosity as $130,900 was collected online to purchase school supplies for students experiencing homelessness during the sixth 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 7,724 backpacks purchased included 216,912 individual supplies, 2,000 Passion Planners, and 24,000 face masks. More than 22,000 school-age children were identified as homeless during the 2018-19 school year.
“Even during a pandemic when so many are facing challenges of their own, people recognize the importance of making sure students experiencing homelessness have what they need to start school,” said County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. “We are so grateful for the generosity and kindness of our community during this time.”
Donations received helped to fill 100% of the requests that were received by SDCOE’s Homeless Education Services, which came from 32 school districts and 26 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 thrilled to have filled a record number of backpacks this year for thousands of students in need throughout San Diego County. This year more than ever, it’s important that they start the school year ready to learn and succeed,” said SDCCU President and CEO Teresa Campbell. “We are so grateful to all the generous donors who help make this initiative a tremendous success year after year.”
Hundreds of individuals and families donated varying amounts to the campaign, helped by the Danna Foundation, a Utah-based philanthropic organization who matched any donations made between Aug. 13 and Aug. 31, up to $20,000, while Blue Shield Promise Health Plan donated $5,000. San Diego-based companies also made tremendous contributions. Luxury bag maker Vessel donated 1,700 backpacks, Clinical Supplies donated 24,000 face masks, and Passion Planner donated 2,000 planners to include in the backpacks.
This year’s Stuff the Bus campaign was solely online with no on-site collection of supplies as was done in the past.
In 2019, the Stuff the Bus campaign provided more than 6,800 backpacks filled with supplies to San Diego County students.