Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

The annual “Stuff the Bus” campaign to collect school supplies for homeless students yielded more than 4,800 backpacks, roughly 246,500 individual items and more than $23,600 in cash, the sponsors announced Friday.

The program, backed by San Diego County Credit Union, iHeartMedia radio stations and the San Diego County Office of Education, took place around the county, with collection tour stops and drop-off locations.

“The response to this effort was truly extraordinary this year, leading to unprecedented results,” said Michelle Lustig, SDCOE’s manager of foster youth and homeless education services. “Thousands of students who are experiencing homelessness went back to school ready to learn thanks to the amazing generosity of partners and countless anonymous donors.”

According to the SDCOE, more than 23,000 school-aged children were identified as homeless during the last school year.

Homelessness for school-age children can mean living in a shelter, sharing a residence with whole families, living in a car or trailer, or sharing a room in an apartment with relatives, according to the agency.

“The quality and quantity of supplies far exceeded our expectations,” said Susie Terry, project specialist with SDCOE’s homeless education services. “We were able to assist more students who are experiencing homelessness than ever before.”

While homelessness is most associated with downtown San Diego, SDCOE officials said the problem affects suburban school districts all over the county.

—City News Service