United Way will hold ‘Stuff the Bus’ drive

Staff Writer

The United Way of Monmouth County will hold a “Stuff the Bus” campaign in August and the goal is to send Monmouth County children back to school equipped with all the supplies they need for a new academic year.

Kaarina Romero, the volunteer center manager for the United Way of Monmouth County, said donations are needed for many students who will be heading back to school in the fall.

“Often they don’t have what they need to start the school year, let alone last throughout the entire year,” Romero said. “We strive to alleviate that burden on parents and teachers who simply cannot afford the necessary school supplies that students need.”

Five “Stuff the Bus drives” will take place during the first half of August at the following locations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.:

Aug. 1, Walmart, Freehold Township (326 W Main St.)

Aug. 7, Target, Middletown (2105 Route 35)

Aug. 8, Target, Manalapan (55 Route 9)

Aug. 14, Target, Howell (4955 Route 9)

Aug. 15, Target, Ocean Township (2331 Route 66).

Backpacks, colored pencils, notebooks, crayons and more are being sought as donations for pupils in the Asbury Park, Freehold Borough, Keansburg, Keyport, Long Branch and Red Bank school districts.

Romero said children need supplies in order to succeed in school.

“If they have the supplies they need, then hopefully they can just focus on their homework instead of worrying about not having a pencil or a notebook to write in,” she said.

For the first time, donations can come from online purchases using a new feature called Roonga, which is an online school supply drive that allows people to donate from any location.

“It is cool because anything that gets purchased gets shipped directly to us,” Romero said. “This allows people to donate through their computer or phone and they don’t even have to go to the store.”

The “Stuff the Bus” drive in Monmouth County has been going on for five years, Romero said. The students’ and staff members’ reactions to the supplies they receive are what make the effort worth it every year.

“It means the world to these schools,” she said. “When we show up in August with our vans full of supplies it is like Christmas to them.”

Last year, the United Way distributed nearly 19,000 school supplies to children in Monmouth County and Romero said organizers are hoping to exceed that amount this year.

“We always want to top the year before, so 20,000 supplies would be a great goal to set for this year,” she said. “Teachers and principals are so thankful and their faces light up with all the supplies we deliver to them.”