United Way of Northeast Florida wrapped a record-breaking summer of school-preparedness collection drives this month as part of its first-annual Summer Daze of Action. The two-part Summer Daze effort included a ReadingPals Book Drive, June 1 through June 30, and Stuff the Bus, June 22 through Aug. 1.
The ReadingPals Book Drive, in partnership with the Jacksonville Public Library, collected more than 7,000 books at library locations across Duval County for United Way’s ReadingPals program and Friends of the Library. Volunteers then sorted the books at the Jessie Ball duPont Center June 21 for distribution. All children’s books collected – about 4,000 books – will benefit pre-kindergarten students within ReadingPals, United Way’s early-literacy initiative.
Stuff the Bus, in partnership with First Coast News, collected more than 25,000 school supplies to benefit United Way’s Full Service Schools and Achievers For Life initiatives. This was a record-setting year for Stuff the Bus, the most school supplies ever collected through the annual supply drive. Materials collected will help fill school-supply gaps in classrooms this school year.
Stuff the Bus school-supply collection began June 22 with more than 36 United Way corporate partners participating. Southeast Toyota won United Way’s corporate partner competition, collecting 5,451 supplies. Bank of America with 1,650 supplies and Gerdau with 1,097 round out the top three corporate collection drives.
Prizes for the winning corporate partners included: package of Jacksonville Jaguars tickets (first place); team building fun at Autobaun Indoor Speedway (second place); and a visit to the company office by Jaxon de Ville and The ROAR (third place).
Stuff the Bus culminated on a school-supply drop-off day at the St. Johns Town Center, where hundreds of area residents dropped off supplies that were then loaded into a school bus on site. Monday, Aug. 1, volunteers unloaded the school bus and sorted the supplies at the duPont Center for distribution to the schools.
As a result of Summer Daze of Action, thousands of students and teachers across Northeast Florida will have a more successful start to the school year.
“The community’s response was incredible,” said Phyllis Martin, United Way’s head of community impact and strategic investments. “Because of our great partners, volunteers and the community at large, local children in need will be much more prepared for success in school this year.”
United Way of Northeast Florida’s Summer Daze of Action is a celebration of United Way Worldwide’s Day of Action. Summer Daze was generously supported this year by Depend.