School supplies delivered as part of the Stuff the Bus campaign

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Students in Western Massachusetts are preparing to return to the classroom, and United Way of Pioneer Valley is making sure all of these kids have the tools they need to succeed.

Stuff the Bus provides backpacks full of school supplies to homeless students in Hampden County, Granby and South Hadley. This year, the team donated 2,036 backpacks full of school supplies to K-12 students in Pioneer Valley.

“I think back to when you’re in first grade and your teacher tells you to memorize your address, what if you don’t have an address? It’s just heartbreaking and we want to get as much help as possible for these students,” said Community Impact Director Jennifer Kinsman.

Peter Pan Bus Lines donated the bus and driver to carry the bags and does so every year for the cause. School supplies were donated by the community and volunteers assembled them.

“We are fortunate to have generous donors who want to ensure that every student starts the school year with the supplies they need. And we are grateful to Peter Pan Bus Lines, which annually lends a bus and driver to deliver the backpacks to school districts,” said Paul Mina, President and CEO of United Way of Pioneer Valley.

“They’re very happy they’re getting brand new things for school,” said Marilyn Nunez, one of many Partners for Community staff who helped provide the backpacks for these students. His participation in the “Stuff the Bus” event is always rewarding. “It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, put a smile on someone’s face, especially those little kids.”

Something as simple as a backpack makes a difference for families across the region.

“Being able to donate these backpacks, for the family, is one less burden they have to worry about,” said Pamela Cook of Partners for Community.

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