Drive-through ‘Stuff the Bus’ event aims to help Pinellas Co. students during pandemic

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA)- The Pinellas Education Foundation held their annual Stuff the Bus event on Friday but the school supply drive looked a little different this year.

Throughout the day the public drove by the contactless drop-off supply drive at Westfield Countryside in Clearwater to donate back to school staples like pens, pencils, notebooks and folders.

“We know on a traditional school year, that’s more than 60% of Pinellas County School students are economically disadvantaged. We don’t know what that looks like now after the pandemic,” said Stacy Baier, CEO of the Pinellas Education Foundation. “Looking at all of the unemployment numbers and how that’s impacting families and students, we really believe that more now than ever, just taking this extra burden off of our kids and off of their families and making sure that they have a backpack and paper and pens and pencils, and all they need to get started is going to be most important.”

This upcoming school year, Pinellas County students have three proposed learning options, including traditional learning in the classroom, MyPCS Online and Pinellas Virtual School.

“We work in partnership with the Pinellas PTA and they help us figure out the distribution plan this year,” said Baier.

According to Pinellas County Council PTA President Christina Garcia, no matter what curriculum students choose, they’ll still have access to the donated supplies.

“They could just contact the school, through the school counselor and we would get those supplies to them,” said Garcia. “Most kids have to start school with no backpack or no pencils and it makes them feel very excluded. So, this is essential.”

David Martinez-Cooley, music teacher at Lila Davis Elementary tells WFLA.com, the donated school supplies don’t just benefit students. He believes the donated supplies will be crucial when it comes to keeping teachers and students safe and healthy.

“We’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do and what we can share and what we need to give students individually,” said Martinez-Cooley. “We have a lot of need, but we also have a great community that steps up and helps when needed.”

If you missed the Stuff the Buss event, you still have a chance to donate to students here.  

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