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‘Stuff the Bus!’ was a success

ADDISON COUNTY — This past August and September the United Way of Addison County organized its second year of “Stuff the Bus!” and the “Back to School Shop,” a two-part program that directly supports youth and schools in Addison County.
The Back to School Shop has been serving families and the area youth for over a decade and the United Way of Addison County recognizes that folks in the community look forward to and rely on the benefits of the program year after year. In combination with the collected supplies and nearly $4,000 in cash donations from donors in the community, the United Way was able to prepare over 150 supplies-stuffed backpacks for elementary, middle school and high school kids. The backpacks were distributed by HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects) in Middlebury, the Vergennes Food Shelf through the Vergennes Congregational Church, and St. Ambrose Church in Bristol.
Meeting the educational needs of area youth is paramount to their success, explains Jesse Brooks, regional prevention partnership coordinator for the United Way of Addison County.
“We know that when students feel confident they perform better overall,” Brooks said. “We have the ability as an organization to give every student in Addison County the chance to walk through the doors on their first day of school, feel certain of their skills and capabilities and not be distracted by deficiency.”
According to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, nearly 50 percent of students in Addison County (grades 9-12) do not feel valued by their community.
“It is vital that programs like the Back to School Shop continue because of what it demonstrates to our youth,” Brooks said. “Since nearly half of our students feel this way it is an obvious priority to continue our efforts to offer and enhance the Back to School Shop and programs that are similar to it.”
United Way of Addison County expressed their gratefulness to the distribution points in the county, as well as to Betcha-Transit and UTC Aerospace for their help with these programs.
Backpacks are still available for students by calling the United Way of Addison County office at 388-7189. 

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