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United Way aims to help 1,000 western Massachusetts children with Stuff the Bus

July 31, 2014 | G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – The United Way of the Pioneer Valley is asking people to help out homeless children by making donations to the fourth annual Stuff the Bus campaign.

The goal is to fill a Peter Pan bus with school supplies that will be used to help area homeless children who do not have the items they need for school. The campaign kicked off July 25 and will conclude Aug. 9.

Dora Robinson, president and CEO of the United Way of the Pioneer Valley, said the effort would assist more than 1,000 area children.

“They need the opportunity to start the school year right,” Robinson said. “They need to arrive on the first day of school ready to learn.”

Over the course of the campaign, a Peter Pan bus will be at various locations to collect the donations. Peter Picknelly, CEO of Peter Pan Bus Lines, said he was “a really proud to participate.”

Other program sponsors include Comcast, the City of Springfield, Health New England and United Technologies Aerospace Systems.

The items sought for the campaign include No. 2 pencils, erasers, binders, paper, crayons, highlighters, pencil boxes, pens, glue sticks, rulers, two-pocket folders and one-subject notebooks. Each child will receive the supplies in a backpack.

On Aug. 1 and 2, the bus will be at the Westfield Wal-Mart; on Aug. 8, there will be a bus at both the Springfield and Chicopee Wal-Mart stores and on Aug. 9, the bus will be at the Springfield Wal-Mart. The bus will be at the locations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There will also be bins where donations can be placed marked as “Stuff the Bus” at Eastfield Mall in Springfield and Holyoke Mall.

After the buses have been “stuffed,” volunteers will distribute the filled backpacks to children in Chicopee, Holyoke, Springfield and South Hadley.

For additional information and for volunteer opportunities, contact LaTonia Naylor, community impact coordinator at the United Way, at 693-0215.

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