POTTSVILLE -- The Schuylkill County United Way held its annual Stuff the Bus event Monday.
Ayden Durning of Tamaqua will start the sixth grade this year. He said he'll be ready for his first day thanks to the United Way. The organization gave him a free backpack.
"I was actually pretty excited," Durning said "Having all the supplies to go back to school -- well most of them. It's fun."
The Schuylkill County United Way packed more than 1,400 backpacks for families in need. It's the 15th annual Stuff the Bus event.
"We sweated a lot today, but it makes such a big difference in a child's life," Schuylkill United Way Executive Director Kelly Malone said. "So that's why we run this program each and every year."
Each backpack is stuffed with 10 different things that will help students get ready for the school year.
"The reason we do this is so that the parent who is in a stressful time can go out and they can purchase the sneakers and tops and jeans that they need," Malone said.
About 90 volunteers helped prepare the backpacks, including employees from the manufacturer Sapa in Cressona. They will also hand out the backpacks.
"Feels good, helps a good cause," Sapa employee Roman Dinger said. "A lot of kids are going to be happy."
Many of the people who volunteer for Stuff the Bus said it is their favorite time of year because of the smiles they see when the backpacks are given out.
"You hand a child a backpack and that child, you would think, some children, you're handing them a million dollars," Malone said. "It's important to them."
Local businesses also donated additional school supplies placed in the backpacks.