Shoppers "Stuff the Bus" to help students in need

August 17, 2012 7:10:47 PM PDT
As kids get ready to head back to school, not all of them will be able to afford the pencils and notebooks and crayons they'll need in the classroom. In one East Bay community, help is arriving on a big yellow bus.

Whether or not shoppers at the Walmart in Union City went to buy school supplies, there are kids who need them, "The schools really need help of the parents right now," Shamsa Rafay said.

That's why Rafay and her daughter have been passing out fliers in front of the Walmart. That's also why a big yellow bus is there as well.

"We're collecting school supplies," New Haven School District spokesperson Rick La Plante said. "And the folks who care to purchase supplies for us bring 'em to the bus and we literally stuff the bus with those school supplies."

Sometimes help arrives in a handful; other times, a cartful. Either way, every little bit helps.

"I can't believe that the parents have to supply this stuff now, these days," Hayward resident Carol Hyde said. "When we were kids, we got everything at school. And it's hard."

La Plante notes that it's harder for some than others, recounting a story about a former student, "The young man had literally stapled together pages from his older brother's notebook that weren't used on the reverse. And that was his notebook at the start of the school year."

It's a story the New Haven School District hopes won't happen again, thanks to these supplies. And if past years are any indication, the district believes generous shoppers will stuff the bus many times over with buckets of school supplies.

"Last year we filled up about 10 buses full," Walmart Manager Jamal Mansour said, adding that the genius of "Stuff the Bus" is that folks can donate as much or as little as they want, "That's what makes the whole program really successful is because really it doesn't take a lot for people to spend, you know, to support their schools."

"We got crayons and pencils and glue and paper folders. And I'm hoping it can help out the needy and the ones that really need the help," shopper Sharon Langskov said.

The bus will remain at the Union City Wal-Mart until Sunday night.


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