Every year as we near the holiday season, I look forward to receiving photos and seeing social media posts of school bus drivers and other transportation department staff members with their festively decorated buses and offices, parties, and holiday cards highlighting their team spirit — and the students aboard the bus decked out in Santa Claus and reindeer caps.
Still, there’s something else I like even more, and that’s seeing how involved pupil transporters are in so many efforts to make the holidays just a little nicer — or maybe just nice, period — for those who are less fortunate.
This time of year there are so many examples of how pupil transporters often go above and beyond helping children access education by getting them to and from school safely. This year, we not only came across stories of transportation departments and companies holding “stuff the bus” events for those in need, but also participating in other community efforts, such as “Shop With a Cop,” which pairs police officers with low-income students for a paid shopping trip to buy gifts for their families and friends.
Similarly, the “Shop With a Hero” program, which Northwest Bus Service of Titusville, Pennsylvania, has participated in, has students shopping with police officers, firefighters, and other first responders. This year, when it looked like the event might not happen, due to a grant falling through, the bus company was instrumental in making sure it did, donating money, along with other community members, Monica Willis, a bus driver for the company, told School Bus Fleet via Facebook.
Other readers told SBF on Facebook about how their districts have pitched in to help those in need during the holidays. Ian Ruck, an on-the-bus instructor trainer (OBI) for Licking Heights Local School District in Pataskala, Ohio, said that his district’s OBIs teamed up with neighboring district Southwest Licking Local School District’s OBIs to have a friendly competition to see which district could collect more hats, gloves, coats, and other clothing and personal items for local residents in need. In Washington state, bus driver Julie McKee shared that Sedro Woolley School District’s transportation department collected $80 and bought gift cards to donate to Boys and Girls Clubs of America for holiday baskets.
Meanwhile, also in Washington, a group of school bus drivers who work for Moses Lake School District created toiletry kits for 100 foster children and homeless children, according to Columbia Basin Herald. The bus drivers spent a month making the kits. The drivers also held a canned food drive last month.
Also, the transportation department of another district, Newton County School System in Covington, Georgia, made sure all students got the chance to see a performance of “The Nutcracker”:
The @SchoolBusNCSS team making sure all NCSS fourth grade students get to see the Nutcracker performance today at Porter Performing Arts Center. #ncssbesthebest pic.twitter.com/0ZLN392XMF— NCSS Pupil Transportation (@SchoolBusNCSS) December 8, 2017
To help the hungry, Durham School Services' team in Overland Park, Kansas, recently raised $1,800 for Harvesters — The Community Food Network, a regional food bank serving a 26-county area of northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas.
And then there’s New York school bus dealer Leonard Bus Sales, which just launched an initiative showing its commitment to help lessen hunger in the state. “Giving Thanks and Giving Back” is made up of a program that provides meals to children in need, a holiday canned food drive, and annual direct contributions to food banks.
Whether helping children and families facing hunger or financial difficulties by providing much-needed resources or just putting a smile on your passengers’ faces with a brilliantly decorated bus, like this Canadian bus driver did, it is so heartening to see all the hard work you put into making life better for others, particularly children.
I know that what I listed here is only the tip of the iceberg of what you do for the holidays. If you would like to share the efforts of your district or company, please feel free to in the comments section below.
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