The transportation team for Colton (Calif.) Joint Unified School District collected 186 jackets, 100 toys, and 1,000 pounds of food as part of its holiday Stuff the Bus project. Photo by Erick Richardson

The transportation team for Colton (Calif.) Joint Unified School District collected 186 jackets, 100 toys, and 1,000 pounds of food as part of its holiday Stuff the Bus project. Photo by Erick Richardson

COLTON, Calif. — The Colton Joint Unified School District’s (CJUSD’s) transportation department helped make the holidays brighter for students and families in need with their holiday “Stuff the Bus” project.

The festive school bus was stuffed with 186 jackets, 100 toys, and 1,000 pounds of food for families in need.

CJUSD Transportation Director Erick Richardson came up with the idea for the holiday Stuff the Bus. It follows in the tradition of the Kindness Bus, which rolled through the Colton Joint Unified School District during the month of October to bring positivity to schools and neighborhoods.

Like the Kindness Bus, the holiday Stuff the Bus was decorated with bright and distinctive artwork. Beginning right after the Thanksgiving break, the bus traveled to sites throughout the communities served by the district in inland southern California to collect items. It was also featured in the Colton Chamber of Commerce’s 42nd Annual Christmas Parade on Dec. 10.

“We wanted to make sure our students and their families know that we care about each and every one of them,” Richardson said. “Our students understood by helping to Stuff the Bus, they were helping others that may be less fortunate. One particular student approached the bus and apologized to me for bringing an unwrapped toy. I made sure that she understood that an unwrapped toy was very acceptable and that I would personally wrap the toy. This is a prime example of why we will continue to Stuff the Bus every year.”

One thousand pounds of food was also collected as part of the project, and the district also helped deliver food baskets to families in need. Photo by Colton Joint Unified School District

One thousand pounds of food was also collected as part of the project, and the district also helped deliver food baskets to families in need. Photo by Colton Joint Unified School District

Richardson added that his staff also donated their time and money to the effort, which will help a large number of children and families in the school district. In addition, the CJUSD transportation department and student services department have partnered with the Inland Empire Community Collaborative to provide food baskets to families in need. Members of the transportation department personally delivered baskets to 18 families last weekend. Other supplies were donated to the CJUSD student services department, which holds an annual jacket drive and maintains a food pantry for families who need assistance throughout the year.

“I am so proud of Erick and his team for taking the initiative to embark on this creative project to help our families,” said CJUSD Superintendent Jerry Almendarez. “The Holiday Stuff the Bus project shows what we can accomplish for our communities when we work together for the good of our students. This obviously was a labor of love and it showed.”

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