MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) Students are getting ready to go back to school and United Way Monterey County is partnering up with the Monterey County Office of Education to make sure they are equipped with all the basic necessities to succeed.
The 11th Annual "Stuff the Bus" event kicked off on July 19, 2021, and will continue through July 24, 2021. Volunteers help assemble backpacks filled with school supplies to help local students in need ahead of the school year.
According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $848.90 on school items, which is $59 more than last year. However, in California, 194,709 children and youth are identified as homeless.
"This last school year, they identified over 10,000 students in Monterey County experiencing some kind of housing difficulty or homelessness," said Donna Smith, Program Coordinator for the Homeless Children and Youth Services Program at the Monterey County Office of Education.
United Way Monterey County has purchased school supplies for local elementary, middle and high school students in need. What goes inside the backpacks is all dependent on their grade. For example, middle and high school students would be supplied with binders, clear dividers, notebooks and pencils. Whereas elementary students would receive crayons and markers. All of the supplies are funded through donations and sponsorships.
"Actually this year, we received about 17 pallets worth of supplies to producer 4,500 backpacks," said Lynda Patrick, Vice President of Resource Development for United Way Monterey County.
Monterey County Office of Education's homeless and youth program identifies how many backpacks go to each school and does so with the help of each school district in the county. After that, volunteers get to work stuffing backpacks with school supplies and separating each pack by grade. School districts then stop by and pick them up before the first day of school.
"Knowing that at least 4,100 will end up getting school supplies this year, makes us really happy about that," said Joanne Nemeth, a volunteer for 11 years.
The event only has one more day to go but you can still help students by donating to united way on their website. They fundraise for "Stuff the Bus" all year long to prepare for the upcoming school year.