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San Benito
May 28, 2024

Locals help to Stuff the Bus for students in need

The annual Stuff the Bus fundraiser is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Target parking lot in Hollister.

The event is put on by the United Way of San Benito County and the San Benito County Office of Education.

It is an initiative where the United Way and office of education raise funds and spend the money on school supplies and backpacks, said Vicki Fortino, the San Benito coordinator for United Way.

She explained how the office of education identifies students who are most in need from local schools. The education office sends out vouchers toward the end of the school year inviting families on the day of the stuffing event.

“The reason we started working with the schools to do the voucher system to get the kids to come on down to the stuffing event is because it was really hard for the schools to get these supplies out once school starts,” Fortino said.

Fortino said the nonprofit buys supplies from a wholesaler and gets “really good deals.” United Way gets physical donations as well.

“Hazel Hawkins just called yesterday,” Fortino said in a recent interview. “They’ve got a truckload of stuff.”

She mentioned others such as Rabobank, Pacific Scientific, Earthbound Farm, the YMCA and the Community Foundation doing collections as well. She noted how the Cienega 4-H group had dropped off 500 boxes of crayons in recent days, too.

“It’s really become an event that the public really gets behind,” Fortino said. “I think they see the importance of having kids start school prepared.”

Fortino said last year, more than 600 students showed up to get backpacks with supplies. She said 2,000 backpacks is the goal. Other students in need will receive them at school when it starts. She said the groups were inching toward that goal as of late last week.

“It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “It’s been a great partnership with the county office.”