It’s More Than a Backpack: Stuff the Bus Campaign Gets Rolling

United Way, Santa Cruz COE team up to provide thousands of Santa Cruz County students with essential school supplies

Stuff the Bus featured imageAs the new school year approaches, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (Santa Cruz COE) and United Way of Santa Cruz County are once again teaming up to Stuff the Bus – an annual campaign aiming to provide thousands of students across the county with the backpacks and school supplies they need to start the school year ready to succeed.

Starting July 1, the community is invited to support the Stuff the Bus campaign by donating funds or dropping off new backpacks and school supplies at designated collection points throughout Santa Cruz County, including all Bay Federal Credit Union branches. The campaign aims to raise at least $25,000 throughout the month to meet the anticipated need.

“Stuff the Bus is about more than school supplies,” said Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Faris Sabbah. “It’s about providing every student with the opportunity to step into the classroom ready to achieve and thrive, regardless of individual circumstances. Each backpack brings us a step closer to our goal of ensuring no child in Santa Cruz County has to start the school year unprepared.”

More than 2,800 students in Santa Cruz County face homelessness and other significant hardships, making it challenging to have the necessary supplies when school starts later this summer. These children are at risk of falling behind academically, socially, and economically. Backpacks are also distributed throughout the year on an as-needed basis. In the 2022-23 school year, for instance, hundreds of backpacks were distributed to students in the Pajaro Valley who were impacted by the winter floods.

“Amidst the devastating aftermath of the winter storms, now more than ever has Stuff the Bus been a requested service to support students and their families,” said Keisha Browder, CEO of United Way of Santa Cruz County. “Each pencil, each notebook, each act of collecting school supplies is a small and mighty step towards rebuilding their futures. This sends the message to our students that we, as a community, care about their future – and we are grateful for the support of our donors, volunteers, and community partners who empower this work.”

The Stuff the Bus campaign culminates with a Stuff-A-Thon on August 5, where volunteers will work to fill backpacks with the donated supplies, ready for distribution to students in need. Corporate sponsors for this year’s initiative include Bay Federal Credit Union, Comcast, Courtyard by Marriott Santa Cruz, David Lyng Real Estate, Driscoll’s Inc., Dignity Health, Lookout Santa Cruz,  New Leaf, Nordic Naturals, Ow Family Properties, Santa Cruz County Bank, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union,  UPS, Santa Cruz Warriors, and UC Santa Cruz.

For more information about Stuff the Bus, and to make a donation, visit