More than 5,000 Columbus area disadvantaged students will be better prepared for the start of the new school year because the fourth annual Stuff the Bus initiative, conducted by the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley, produced a record amount of donations.
United Way officials announced during Wednesday’s celebration in the Char-Broil parking lot that 5,226 backpacks filled with school supplies are being distributed this week among 33 Title I schools: 24 in Muscogee County, five in Phenix City, three in Russell County and one in Harris County.
Scott Ferguson, president and CEO of the local United Way chapter, told the Ledger-Enquirer the project has increased the number of filled backpacks every year, from approximately 900 in 2014 to 2,000 in 2015 and 4,600 in 2016.
“It’s so amazing the generosity of this community,” Ferguson said. “We’ve had about 30 companies that collected supplies.”
TSYS led the way with 2,771 filled backpacks, he said.
“We’re just the conduit,” Ferguson said. “We see the need and bring people together. They rally around what we need to do.”
In addition to TSYS and Char-Broil, other Stuff the Bus sponsors this year are CareSource, Hecker & Koch, iHeartMedia, Little Caesars, Malone Office Environments, PMB Broadcasting, Pratt & Whitney, Publix, Snyder’s-Lance, Stars and Strikes, Two Men and a Truck, UPS, WestRock, and Yanfeng USA.