It's More Than A Backpack: Stuff The Bus Brings Hope and Confidence in Time for Upcoming School Year


Stuff The Bus Backpack Drive

(Capitola, CA) The Santa Cruz County Office of Education and United Way of Santa Cruz County are gearing up for the annual “Stuff The Bus” initiative - collecting new backpacks and school supplies for Santa Cruz County students currently experiencing homelessness and other financial hardships. The County Office of Education estimates there are more than 4,000 local students in our county classified as homeless or in transition. These children are less likely to be ready when school starts in August, putting them at-risk of falling behind academically, socially, and economically in the long-term. Backpacks filled with school supplies will  help these students start the school year on to the right path to promote academic success and well-being.

Last year, Stuff The Bus raised 2,000 backpacks filled with school supplies. This year, the number of students in need increased due to the effects of the CZU Lightning Complex Fires There are students currently living in shelters or motels, living with relatives or friends, after their homes were lost due to the CZU Lightning Fires.
“We have been hosting Stuff The Bus for over a decade in Santa Cruz County and this year is one of our most critical years as we know that the CZU Lightning Complex Fires added to the number of students in need of supplies to be prepared for the upcoming academic year”, says Keisha Browder, United Way CEO. “It’s important for our organization to partner with the County Office of Education to support students and their families as we transition back to in-person learning. We know that many of our families are adjusting financially and mentally – this is one way we can provide essential school supplies to take that cost off of their plates”.

From July 1 – August 7, 2021, local businesses and community members can support Stuff The Bus by dropping off new backpacks and/or school supplies (it is important that the materials are new and not gently used) at participating Stuff The Bus Collection Drive locations throughout Santa Cruz County. People can also go online and make a monetary donation to provide a backpack filled with school supplies online at

Stuff The Bus corporate sponsors to date include Graniterock, Nordic Naturals, Santa Cruz County Bank, UC Santa Cruz, Cabrillo College, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and UPS. Local businesses interested in sponsoring Stuff The Bus can visit online at or email Ash Gonzalez, Community Engagement Manager, at