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September 1, 2014, 3:03 pm

Nonprofits partner for back to school drive

Over the summer, non-profit organizations United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Cradles to Crayons with Clear Channel radio stations hosted their Stuff the Bus Collection Drive to provide school supplies for disadvantaged Philadelphia Children.

“It went really well,” said Monica Lewis-Wilborn, associate director of communication for United Way. “This was a great example of partnerships.”

Each year Cradles to Crayons and United Way collect back to school donations, but this was the first year that the two worked together.

“We decided it would be better and impact more children if we do something together,” said Wilborn.

The bus event was one of their summer-long efforts to collect enough donations to fill at least 15,000 backpacks with school supplies. The bus event was held at the Acme on Harbison Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard in northeast Philadelphia.

Radio personalities Shamara, the Hot Boyz and Patty Jackson broadcasted live from the event from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.

“In the urban community, we might have a lot of issues, but in times of need we tend to stand together,” said Shamara. When the Hot Boyz arrived to the site, the group of radio personalities bought school supplies from the Acme to donate.

“The need is now more than ever,” said Loraine Ballard Morrill, director of news and community affairs for Clear Channel. “In past years we’ve collected up to 2 tons of school supplies, we’re hoping to beat that this year,” she said at the beginning of the event.

“Because of the economy, homelessness is on the rise in suburban and rural areas and that’s what we’re responding to,” said Michal Smith, executive director of Cradles to Crayons Philadelphia. “This is just one initiative to keep kids equipped for school year round.”

Citizen’s Bank was also a partner with Cradles to Crayons to collect donations during the summer. Donation boxes were located at banks throughout Philadelphia and supplies were included to stuff the thousands of backpacks before school started.

The Citizens Banks located in the Acme co-hosted the event. Acme store manager, Ilene Rooney, said she was unaware of the event until she came to work. When she learned of its cause she set up a table to help.

“Acme has been in the community and serving the community for years, so it’s vital for us to give back,” said Rooney.

During the event, from 11 a.m. until 3:30 pm, Acme hosted a sweepstake giveaway where bags of groceries with healthy back to school snakes were given away.

Acme coupons were also given away. Rooney said there was an increase of customers buying school supplies that day, many of them returning to the parking lot to donate them. She said she also donated some notebooks.

On August 25, the organizations met at the Philadelphia Zoo as their final summer effort and stuffed the 15,000 backpacks. While the bags were stuffed, more than 250 children selected by the Mayor’s Office of Community Services, enjoyed the zoo before being provided lunch and given their new backpacks.

The remainder of the bags was distributed through social service agencies. 

In addition to Cradles to Crayons, United Way and Citizens Bank providing any addition financial needs, other sponsors included US Airways, Target, Cigna, Beneficial Bank, ASTM International and Bank of America.

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