Southern Utahns invited to ‘fill trucks,’ ‘stuff bus’ with school supplies for homeless students

ST. GEORGE — Washington County’s largest school supply drive is back.

United Way Dixie has partnered with Stephen Wade Auto Center and the Red Cliffs Mall – among others – for the fifth annual “Fill the Trucks to Stuff the Bus” event happening now through Aug. 3.

People can donate school supplies and accessories by placing the objects in one of two Stephen Wade trucks located in the center court of the Red Cliffs Mall. Then, on Aug. 3, those supplies will be used to pack the school bus full of donations for homeless students in the district.

“The biggest push right now is to get community members to go down to the mall and fill those trucks,” said Rachel Krausman, United Way Dixie senior director.

According to Krausman, there are nearly 1,000 students in the Washington County School District who are considered homeless as of May 2019. Homeless students could be living in shelters, staying in hotels, couch-surfing or living with another family. The district estimates over 70 are unaccompanied minors.

Once the trucks are filled, United Way Dixie will host a celebration to “stuff the bus” in the Red Cliffs Mall parking lot.

“The idea of the event is to gather school supplies and literally just put them in this bus and stuff it full to the top,” Krausman said.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be a free pancake breakfast, water slide and “Dunk’A’Principal” event, including principals from Red Mountain Elementary, Hurricane Elementary and Sandstone Elementary. Those in attendance will also have the opportunity to dunk St. George Mayor Jon Pike.

Once the supplies are gathered, they are sent to the Washington County School District Foundation and Backpacks 4 Kids. Krausman said United Way Dixie then works with the school district to find students in need through school counselors.

“That way we’re not just dropping them off to anyone who wants one. They are definitely going to the students who truly, truly need them.”

Krausman said the event has grown over the past five years. United Way Dixie used a smaller bus during its first school supply drive; now the organization is able to fill a full-size school bus. As the needs of the school district and its children have shifted, she said the event has adapted to meet those needs.

In recent years, on top of supporting the students, United Way Dixie has donated supplies to classrooms.

“But we are also stuffing the school district full of supplies for the entire year,” Krausman said. “New students will come in during the year that need supplies. We can help these students at the beginning of the year, but we all know – if you have kids – that school supplies run out.”

Krausman said she hopes the event will continue to grow in the future and that they will more effectively meet the needs of students in the district. She said she looks forward to continuing to partner with people and organizations within the community.

School supplies of all kinds are welcome, and donations will go toward low-income families and students in order to help them have a strong start to the school year.