Many children go to school each day without basic supplies like pencils, paper, calculators, crayons and backpacks. Every day teachers need to give out pencils and paper; and if the teachers or the school doesn't have access to extra supplies, the child goes without. Like United Ways across the country, the North Penn United Way and its partners engaged the community to deliver a much needed community service to children in public schools.
For the third straight year, in August of 2011 the North Penn United Way met our goal of collecting nearly 1,100 backpacks for our "Stuff the Bus" program, which aims to ensure that all local elementary students begin the year with the necessary school supplies. "We realized that when the economy took a downturn a few years ago, there would be a large number of elementary school students that needed help acquiring school supplies," said Betsy Roush, volunteer co-chair for the Stuff the Bus project. The committee sends out a notice each spring in order to gauge how many bags will need to be collected, and then there is a month long collection period each July where donations can be dropped off. This year, branches of Univest, Harleysville Savings, and National Penn banks served as collection points, in addition to the Towamencin and Souderton pools and several other local businesses. Roush also pointed out that Costco "generously donated 475 backpacks." According to Denise Yannarell of Univest, who also serves as a voluntary co-chair for the program, the entire downstairs hall of the Hatfield Volunteer Fire Company was filled with backpacks that had been stuffed with supplies ranging from pencils and binders to glue sticks and crayons. "There was no available floor space," said Yannarell, pointing around the hall at empty corners as volunteers finished up packing another truck. "This entire room was completely full. It was an incredible sight."
Nearly 30 volunteers spent the morning of Aug. 10 stuffing each backpack and loading them onto trucks. When all was said and done, the group had packed 1,050 bags onto 20 trucks, which were then distributed to local schools and agencies. "This is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of need in the community," said Inger Berg, Director of Resource Development for the North Penn United Way. "School district budgets were cut earlier this year at the state level, and now the schools are forced to pass off some of the supply costs to the parents. We're seeing families whose budgets are already stretched thin, so this is one of the ways we can help them."
Because of poverty and other family challenges, many children across our country go to school lacking basic supplies needed to perform well. By working together with the community, United Way impacts the lives of children and families across the country. Your United Way contribution, in time or money, is an investment in children, and together we can achieve lasting results. It takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future.
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