Schuylkill United Way Celebrates Successful Back-to-School Donor Event

School supplies and backpacks were donated to fill 2,115 backpacks, the largest collection in the 20-year history of Schuylkill United Way’s Stuff the Bus program.

Organizers said the challenge was daunting this year due to supply chain issues and the severe impact of inflation, making everyone’s generosity all the more inspiring.

St. Clair Schools Guidance Counselor Melissa Carr said, “Especially with recent inflation, our families have a greater burden to provide needed materials…we would like to thank the Schuylkill United Way Stuff the Bus program for their generous annual gift to our students. with backpacks and school supplies.

Backpacks and school supplies are distributed to schools, organizations, individuals and United Way partner agencies
across the county.

One such partner organization is Schuylkill County’s Big Impact Group, a mentorship program operating in eight school districts.

“Parents in our program look forward to Schuylkill United Way’s Stuff the Bus program because they know their children will receive quality backpacks filled with everything their child will need to get off to a good start in school,” said Doug Allen, CEO of BIGS. “It allows parents to buy extra clothes or uniforms, provide a musical instrument or sports equipment for their child that they might not be able to get without the help of SUW.”

Each backpack will be stocked with crayons, crayons (donated by Mid-Penn Bank), pens and dry-erase markers (donated
by Wegmans), erasers, folders, notebooks, colored pencils, glue sticks, pencil cases, scissors, highlighters,
sanitizer (provided by St. Luke’s Miners Campus), tissues (provided by Lehigh Valley Health Network), and a
miscellaneous item.

United Way is grateful to businesses and individuals who donate supplies to this great cause.

As part of its 150th anniversary celebrations, First Citizens Community Bank donated 150 padded backpacks. We were
honored that they thought of Stuff the Bus and know that students will be equally grateful for their generosity. Additionally, Honeywell employees generously donated 100 backpacks and supplies, and Lehigh Valley Hospital – Schuylkill Hospital staff donated 68 backpacks in addition to other items. Hidden River Credit Union and employees of Hexcel and
customers donated 24 and 15 backpacks and items, respectively.

For the second year, Staples offered an incredible opportunity to purchase prepackaged school supply boxes containing 19 branded items for just $5. Nearly 1,100 boxes were purchased. Special thanks to McGriff Insurance who purchased 280 boxes as a special donation and to Mrs. T’s who purchased 50 boxes.

Other major supporters include Boyer’s Food Markets, Evans Delivery, BG’s Value Market in Minersville and Pine Grove, and the Beer Shak on Route 183. Funds raised cover program costs, as some school supplies need to be purchased to meet the needs. .

More than 100 volunteers gave their time and sweat during a heat wave to unload, sort, pack, count and organize the many supplies.

United Way extended special thanks to the 2022 High School Football Challenge champions – the Blue Mountain Eagles – and their head coach, Tom Gallagher, who lent a hand in unloading and preparing the donations. The Salvation
The Pottsville Army Corps housed the donations and provided assembly and distribution space.

Thanks to the generosity of donors and volunteers, more than 2,100 students (about 11% of all students in the county) will get off to a good start for the new school year. Since 2002, Schuylkill residents have helped fill more than 21,000 backpacks.

United Way partner agencies that will benefit from the kindness of donors include: American Red Cross, Big Impact Group of Schuylkill County, Boy Scouts of America, Child Development, Inc., Nurse-Family Partnership, Pottsville Salvation Army, SARCC, Schuylkill County Society for Crippled Children, Schuylkill YMCA, Schuylkill Hope Center for Victims of Domestic Violence and Schuylkill Wellness Services.

Other organizations receiving assistance include Jerusalem Daycare, Schuylkill Community Action, Schuylkill IU 29 and numerous school districts in the county.

The following public repositories are provided: Ashland Public Library; Boyers Food Market (Ashland, Frackville, Orwigsburg, Pottsville, Schuylkill Haven, Shenandoah); First Citizens Community Bank (Schuylkill Haven and Friedensburg); Hidden River Credit Union (hometown, Orwigsburg, Pottsville); J. Bertolet Volkswagen; Candy from Mother Bear (Schuylkill Haven); Orwigsburg Public Library; Pine Grove Pharmacy; Pottsville Public Library; RWB Autos (Ashland and Schuylkill Haven); Schuylkill Haven Public Library and Schuylkill YMCA

The following internal refueling campaigns were organized among employees:

Amazon at Bethel; Eastern Schuylkill Democratic Club; Evans Delivery; Frackville Senior Center; Geisinger/St. Luke’s Hospital; Hexcel; Honeywell; Hydroelectricity; Lehigh Valley Health Network; MAE-Eitel, Inc.; Primary Health Network (Minersville and Shenandoah); Providence Place (Pine Grove); Republican Herald; Chalmet; St. Luke’s Miners Campus; TE connectivity.

Families with children in need of school supplies and a school bag can contact the United Way office at 570-622-6421 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Volunteers celebrate a successful collection of school supplies and book bags. (Courtesy of Schuylkill United Way)
McGriff Insurance volunteers.  (Courtesy of Schuylkill United Way)
McGriff Insurance volunteers. (Courtesy of Schuylkill United Way)
Schuylkill YMCA volunteers.  (Courtesy of Schuylkill United Way)
Schuylkill YMCA volunteers. (Courtesy of Schuylkill United Way)

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