Stuff the Bus Campaign Celebrates 15 Years of Support for Students

STB 2024 Featured ImageThe Santa Cruz County Office of Education (Santa Cruz COE) and United Way of Santa Cruz County are celebrating 15 years of partnership to provide backpacks and school supplies to students experiencing homelessness and other hardships.

Starting July 1, the community is invited to support the 15th Annual Stuff the Bus campaign by donating funds or dropping off new backpacks and school supplies at designated collection points. This year’s campaign aims to raise $45,000 throughout the month to provide 2,500 filled backpacks. Each $25 donation provides a new backpack filled with essential school supplies.

“Each year we work with United Way and our incredible partners to ensure no student has to step into a classroom without the supplies they need to succeed,” said Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Faris Sabbah. “As the cost of living in our community continues to rise, so too are the needs in our school community. These challenges are significant. But with our community’s support, we are confident we can meet them head-on.”

Santa Cruz County faces a severe housing crisis, with record-setting costs contributing to high rates of homelessness and housing insecurity. In 2023, the National Low Income Housing Coalition named Santa Cruz County as the least affordable rental market in the nation. According to the 2022-2023 Annual Count of Homeless Students in Schools, 2,709 students in Santa Cruz County are experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. That accounts for roughly one out of every 15 students in grades TK-12.

“Fifteen years of Stuff the Bus have shown us the power of collective efforts when it comes to addressing the challenges faced by students in our community,” said Keisha Browder, CEO of United Way of Santa Cruz County. “It’s more than a backpack – every donor, volunteer, and partner plays a crucial role in helping students start the school year with confidence and dignity, and we sincerely appreciate your support.”

The Stuff the Bus campaign culminates with a Stuff-A-Thon on August 3 at Kaiser Permanente Arena, where teams of volunteers will work to fill backpacks with the donated supplies, ready for distribution to students in need. The Stuff-A-Thon is hosted in partnership with the Santa Cruz Warriors and UPS. Corporate sponsors for this year’s campaign include New Leaf, Driscoll’s, Nordic Naturals, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, Santa Cruz County Bank, David Lyng, and Lookout Santa Cruz.

For more information about Stuff the Bus and how to get involved as a donor, volunteer, or corporate sponsor, visit