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Stuff the Bus provides school supplies to students

Local children received school supplies on Saturday through the program sponsored by the United Way and the San Benito County Office of Education
Delgado, one of 2,000 or more students who receives a brand new backpack
The bus for the Stuff the Bus program that gives new backpacks to children through United Way and the San Benito County Office of Education.
Volunteers stuff backpacks. Photo courtesy of Krystal Lomanto.

Alvaro Delgado, 5, who was happy to receive a new backpack, was even more excited when he looked inside of it to find all the school supplies needed to start the school year.

Alvaro is one of more than 2,000 underserved youth throughout San Benito County who received a free backpack — with supplies — for the purpose of heading back to school confident and ready to learn.

United Way of San Benito County partnered with the San Benito Office of Education for the fifth annual Stuff the Bus drive that was held Saturday, Aug. 5 at the Target parking lot in Hollister.

“We collect funds for the month of July from donations of sponsoring businesses,” said Vicki Fortino, of United Way.

The program began at 10 a.m. when the supplies were delivered to the Target parking lot and more than 100 volunteers filled the backpacks with school supplies. That was accomplished by 10:30 a.m.

Children with their parents arrived and checked in at the table for each school, and where teachers and school administrators accepted the vouchers that had been previously mailed to parents.

At the next stop, each student picked up the backpack that was loaded with supplies.

Migrant Coordinator Kim O’Connor said the children chosen for the free backpacks and supplies are from foster homes, are homeless or from low-income families.

“We know our families,” O’Connor said, noting the goal of the program is to help students get off to a good start to the school year by getting the supplies that they will need.

Businesses and members of the community have joined the movement by collecting new backpacks and school supplies annually during the month of July. Donations are accepted at sponsoring businesses in the community and the county office of education, as well as monetary donations to United Way San Benito County.

“We depend on these dedicated community businesses and donors who continue to provide school supplies as they promote learning, encourage self-esteem and ensure our youth stay in school,” Fortino said.

Laureen Diephof (Freelance writer)

Laureen has been in the communication business for many years as a photojournalist, columnist, and blogger.She served as reporter and columnist for South Monterey County Newspapers. She reported for the Soledad Bee and the Gonzales Tribune, and is currently writing feature stories for the Salinas Californian. From 2012-13, She was on a one year journey beginning in the Arctic Circle to the Sahara Desert, and many countries and small islands in between. After that she joined AmeriCorps, and served as the volunteer coordinator for the Arts Council for Monterey County. When the 10 month service was completed, she took the earned stipend and used it in Cambodia, where she stayed on a Buddhist Pagoda with the Monks and Nuns. She has written a book about her one year journey and hopes to get it published soon. Her website is: She lives in Aromas with her cat Pharaoh.

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