‘Stuff the Bus’–Great Volunteer Work in Action!

by Ashley Hillman
Community Collaborations Director

On UWSL’s annual Day of Caring on September 8, over 5,000 backpacks were stuffed with school supplies and delivered to elementary and junior high schools in Granite, Park City, and Salt Lake City School Districts. Volunteers created assembly lines and with amazing efficiency, stuffed backpacks with everything from pencils and markers to notebooks and binders. Backpacks were bundled in groups of 50 and “stuffed” into school buses where they began their journey to children all over the city.

Victoria Palauni, who works with the Salt Lake City School District, and I followed one of the large, yellow school buses first to Mountain View Elementary where children excitedly sifted through backpacks to get to the goodies inside. We then hopped over to Glendale Middle where kind-hearted students helped us load the bundles of backpacks onto carts to be taken into the school for distribution. The last stop on the list for us was Lincoln Elementary where the principal, Christine Pittam, and the Community Learning Center Coordinator, Annika Jones, pushed up their sleeves and despite skirts and high heels, helped transport nearly 400 backpacks from the bus and into the school. Mission accomplished! The buses had been stuffed and the backpacks delivered!

A week or so later, I was driving to Mountain View Elementary for a Leadership Committee Meeting, and I saw a little girl walking into her home with a Live United backpack on her back! It brought a smile to my face as I passed by and thought that hopefully these backpacks had brought some joy to the lives of kids in our community.

A couple of days later, I went to Lincoln Elementary for a Leadership Committee Meeting and was presented with an over-sized thank you card from one of the classes at the school. All of the children had signed the card, and there was a picture attached of the kids with their backpacks. The smiling faces validated that the pain in my back from lifting bundles of stuffed backpacks had been totally worth it!

Earlier this week at Rose Park Elementary (another recipient of backpacks), several kids came up to me and thanked me for giving them the backpacks. I wish I could take credit for bringing such happiness to these kids, but it’s absolutely not my credit to take. I was just the lucky one whose face they saw when I helped to deliver the backpacks!

The true credit goes to all of the individuals, school groups, companies, and organizations that made this project such a success. Without the multitudes of donations, time spent sorting through all of the donated school supplies, and volunteers to help stuff the backpacks, some of these kids wouldn’t have had the supplies to successfully complete homework or to feel confident that they were adequately equipped for school.

So THANK YOU to a community that has shown through generous acts of kindness that it cares about the children in our neighborhoods and about their success!

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