United Way, Huntington ‘Stuff the Bus’ to Help 1,000 Students

BOARDMAN, Ohio — One thousand local students will receive much-needed backpacks and school supplies — yet another necessity inflation has put out of reach for some families.

Huntington Bank and the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley partnered up for the 12th annual Stuff the Bus program. Huntington donated backpacks that will be distributed to students in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Mercer counties to prepare students for the new school year. The backpacks were loaded into a bus in a ceremony Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a program we’ve participated in for a number of years now, and we’re honored to be a part of it quite honestly,” Sam Huston, Community President in Youngstown for Huntington, said. “It helps so many kids in the Valley and that’s something that we take a lot of pride in.”

The United Way offers several services to area families, including Success After 6. The program provides wrap-around services to help break down barriers many of the students and their families face. United Way works in partnership with schools to help students achieve success through various enrichment programs, tutoring, health screenings, food pantries, clothing drives, and an after-school program with the State University Extension, SMARTS, OH WOW! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology and Chess is Life.

Roxann Sebest, director of marketing and communications of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, said the initiative aligns perfectly with the organization’s mission to serve.

“This is just one of those many wraparound services that we’re able to provide. And we can’t do any of those without partners of every level corporate partners, school partners, business partners and other nonprofits.” Sebest said. “It just kind of fits in perfectly with everything that we do.”

Great Clips is another contributor to the Stuff the Bus program, Sebest said. Salons across Mahoning County took 3 dollars off haircuts if the customer donated the same amount to the program, all of which went directly towards school supplies to put into the donated backpacks. The backpacks and school supplies will be distributed to schools identified by the United Way as having the most need.

“It’s been a great partnership, especially right now with school supplies and the cost of everything going up,” she said. “It’s a really great opportunity to provide students with what they need and to get the year off on the right foot.”

Huston said that the program fulfills Huntington’s mission of helping its community in ways that way seem unconventional for a bank.

“Looking out for people is one of our core purposes. And we take it very seriously. We continue to look for ways to fulfill that mission,” he said. “We love to get involved in these things. It’s more than the funding — it’s rolling up your sleeves and getting out there.”

Pictured at top from left: Kielly Rapp, director of early learning of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley; Tina Chance, director of donor relations of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley; Sandy Upperman, community president for the Canton area and Mahoning Valley regional marketing manager for Huntington Bank; Sam Huston, community president in Youngstown and business market manager for Huntington Bank; Daryl Cameron, vice president of commercial banking for Huntington Bank; Bob Hannon, president of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley; Toni Solarc of WFMJ TV; Joe Sedzmak, director of the United Way of Northern Columbiana County; Nick Browning, president of the Mahoning Valley, Akron and Canton regions for Huntington Bank.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.