With a Stuffed Bus, United Way Helps Students Arrive Ready

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – At this time of year, school buses are usually filled with kids eager for their first days of school.

Wednesday morning, the bus parked in front of Huntington Bank in downtown Youngstown was filled with something different, but just as crucial: empty backpacks, ready to be filled with school supplies.

As part of the annual Stuff the Bus campaign, United Way volunteers would later fill the colorful backpacks inside with paper, crayons, pencils, glue and other supplies before the bus headed to schools in Columbiana, Mahoning, Trumbull counties, as well as Mercer County in Pennsylvania.

“Huntington Bank brought us the idea for the Stuff the Bus campaign in 2010,” said Bob Hannon, president of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. “Over 1,000 area children will benefit from the donation of school supplies to help them start their school year.”

Hannon said area families have told him it can cost upward of $150 to provide basic school supplies to start the school year. Calls start coming in to United Way as early as June, he added.

The United Ways of Northern Columbiana, Trumbull and Mercer counties also participate in the campaign sponsored by Huntington.

“We are about to pass the 8,000 backpacks distributed mark,” said William Shriver, Huntington’s regional president. “We are reaching people in need. It’s a great opportunity for us to give back to the community.”

Shriver is the campaign chairman for this year’s Stuff the Bus.

Huntington donates $5,000 to the campaign and has also donated $50,000 to the United Way Success After 6 program, which provides tutoring, health screenings and other student enrichment programs.

“We are particularly proud about the Success After 6 program at McGuffey Elementary,” comments Shriver. “We hope our involvement with these programs will encourage others to participate.”

Partners with Huntington in the campaign include Cocca’s Pizza, WFMJ and area Great Clips hair salons, which is offering discounts for donating $5 to the Stuff the Bus campaign. Cocca’s is also offering free pepperoni rolls for donating.

Information about the campaign is provided on the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley’s website and Facebook page, as well as through commercials provided by WFMJ.

“We have been doing this eight years so what we are doing with the campaign is starting to be common knowledge in the community,” Shriver said.

The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley will focus this year on Girard City Schools, Liberty Local Schools, Sebring Local Schools and the Youngstown Community School.

“Alone, the United Way cannot accomplish this,” said Hannon. “It is only through partnerships like the kind we have with Huntington Bank, WFMJ, Great Clips and Cocca’s that we are able to have such a successful campaign.”

Pictured: WFMJ sales associate Toni Trontel Solarz, United Way of Northern Columbiana County Executive Director George Hays, United Way of Trumbull County President and CEO Ginny Pasha, Huntington Bank Canton and Mahoning Valley regional president/ Stuff the Bus chairman William Shriver, United Way of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley President Bob  Hannon, Huntington Bank vice president of regional marketing Sandy Upperman, United Way of Mercer County Executive Director James Micsky Jr and Great Clips education specialist Bridget Baulo.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.