Stuff the Bus

Starting school can be a hurdle for some children, which is why the members of the Kiwanis Clubs of Hillsborough County have announced the Second Annual Stuff the Bus event.

Taking place within the parking lot of Brandon’s Kmart, located at 1602 W. Brandon Blvd., as well as the Staples of Plant City, the Kiwanis Clubs of Brandon, Sun City Center and Plant City will literally stuff Hillsborough County school buses with back-to-school items from 7-9 a.m. on Thursday, August 13. Residents are being welcomed to bring items, such as paper, notebooks, pencils, pens, back packs, scissors, crayons and pocket folders, to aid in the endeavor of filling the bus with back-to-school supplies. Also being collected are teaching supplies, which include dry erase markers, color pens, copy paper, markers, reward stickers and more. Businesses or printing companies looking to rid themselves of unneeded office supplies are welcome to donate any items available. All items donated are tax deductible.

According to Dustie Amatangelo, Brandon foundation president, “A lot of students do not go to school the first day or first week because they do not have the school supplies. This will ready them for learning.”

Having 30 businesses, 26 volunteers and a number of residents attend last year’s event, $6,200 was raised and one entire bus was packed full with school supplies. Because of this effort, 38 schools benefited, helping a multitude of students who were in need. This year, some 45 schools within Brandon, Riverview, SouthShore and Plant City will receive the donations.

“With the state of the economy the way it is and our neighbors and friends losing their jobs and falling on hard times, it is important that everybody pick up a little something extra at the store, as everyone’s help is needed,” comments Amatangelo. “How does that saying go…’It takes a village to raise a child.’ I think in these times, it does.”

For those residents unable to attend the event, some area businesses will have collection bins on-site for donations, such as the Brandon Chamber of Commerce, Kmart, Stingray Chevrolet in Plant City, Network in Plant City, Sweet Bay in Plant City on Alexander, Remax Real Estate in Sun City, South Shore Day Spa in Apollo Beach and South Shore Gallery in Apollo Beach. Monetary donations are welcome at P.O. Box 581, Brandon, FL 33509.

Led by the motto, “Help change the world one child and one community at a time,” the 33-member group, having originated in Brandon some 50 years ago, is enveloped in a variety of subgroups for youth, from elementary school through college. In promotion of its allegiance to the community, it holds a multitude of programs such as Terrific Kids, which recognizes student achievement throughout 28 various elementary schools within Hillsborough County, rewarding an allotted 960 students a month. Focusing on children’s health issues, the group annually provides back-to-school immunizations to almost 3,000 children.

Besides its clubs for the young, the Brandon Kiwanis, one of nine clubs in Hillsborough County alone, holds its own meetings for the young at heart every Thursday morning at Ben’s Family Restaurant, located at 704 E. Brandon Blvd. in Brandon, from 7:45-8:45 a.m. For more information, please call 294-0645 or visit

Having originated in 1915, Kiwanis spans more than 90 countries, providing 15,000 clubs for those interested in the needs of children to take part. Today nearly 600,000 individuals are members of the group which has the goal of eliminating iodine deficiency disorders (IDD).

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Carisa is a Senior News Reporter and Assistant Editor at the Osprey Observer. When she's not at work, she continues to write, working on future projects; hangs out with friends and family, her best friend (aka her husband) and her four dogs.