Plum High School's annual Stuff-a-Bus brings in toys for needy families
Plum families in need will have a happy holiday thanks to district students and staff.
The fourth annual Stuff-a-Bus at Plum High School netted 851 toys and $300 in cash donations for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign Tuesday night.
That’s down from the 1,207 toys the district collected last year.
The event is the culmination of a nearly monthlong, districtwide effort.
“For the last month, we’ve had boxes at all of our schools,” event co-chairwoman Shari Klein said. “Kids have been bringing toys in. Teachers have been giving incentives for kids to bring toys in.”
Incentives included homework passes and dress-down days at the high school.
Plum resident Judy Cook and her husband, Chuck, donated toys and board games.
“Every year that they’ve done it, (we’ve donated),” Judy Cook said. “It’s just a wonderful thing that all the kids get into.”
Chuck Cook said the event unites the community and student clubs for a good cause.
“In a high school where you have so many factions and different sports teams and groups where they don’t necessarily talk to one another, it brings everybody together,” he said.
High school art club members painted faces while the Girls Leader Association made crafts with children.
Artists Grace Spahr and Laurel Cowling, both juniors, said snowflakes on the cheeks and a reindeer nose were the two most popular paint options. It was their first year participating.
“It brightens my heart up like a little Christmas tree,” Spahr said.
Plum’s junior Air Force ROTC cadets were in charge of actually stuffing the bus with the collected toys, as well as serving hot dogs and refreshments at the event.
“It’s really important because everyone deserves a Christmas and deserves a holiday,” said senior Justin Rowe, deputy group commander. “It’s so important to us because we don’t want little kids, or anyone in general, to wake up Christmas morning and have nothing under their tree.”
Rowe, who’s been involved in the past three Stuff-a-Bus campaigns, said cadets look forward to the event.
“A big part of ROTC is giving back to the community,” he said. “We do a bunch of community service hours, and this is one of our big events. We get to see new faces. All of the various school organizations get to come and we get to help out with everyone else, which is really nice.”
The cadets collected 100 toys.
“This year’s turnout and student involvement was better than ever,” Klein said. “The students truly enjoyed the event.”
Event co-chairwoman Tracey Liberatore said announcements about Stuff-a-Bus were made via fliers and through the school’s social media pages, and she noticed more support from principals and local businesses compared with previous years.
“They step up and donate,” Liberatore said. “All of the toys that are collected by our community stay in our community. When you work in the school, you see need and you see people who want to help out. Toys for Tots has been around for a long time. It’s all about helping our kids.”
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.