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UCPS Transportation Department sends school bus for Haiti relief

Adam Johnson, director of the UCPS Transportation Department, helps load the final items collected the week of Feb. 15, 2010. Also pictured is Vec Dunn, an operations manager with the UCPS Transportation Department.

The Union County Public Schools Transportation Department is joining the global effort to help earthquake victims in Haiti by sending them a school bus filled to the brim with needed supplies. Then the bus will be used to transport Haitian teachers.
The idea, dubbed “Stuff the Bus,” was the brainchild of Adam Johnson, director of the UCPS Transportation Department. Each year during the month of February, school bus drivers across America are recognized for their hard work during “Love the Bus” month.
“This year, I wanted to do something a little different and use ‘Love the Bus’ to think about the many people in Haiti who have lost family, friends and most of their belongings in the devastating earthquake,” Johnson said. “I guess this is our way of ‘sending the love’ on a global level to those less fortunate.”
For an entire week, the yellow school bus was driven from school to school, gathering donated items for the long trek to Haiti. Some of the items donated include rice, corn meal, beans, spaghetti, cooking oil, salt, sugar, toiletry items, towels, linens, shoes and clothes. “We also have medical supplies like walkers, canes and crutches,” Johnson said.
The bus will leave Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010, for West Palm Beach, Fla., and then be shipped to Guanives, Haiti. “The items will be distributed by a mission group there, and then the bus will be used to transport teachers to and from different schools in Haiti,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s idea became a reality when a friend of his, Randy Gulledge, owner of The Solution Stores of Cheraw, SC, donated the money needed ($1,500) to purchase one of the UCPS school buses that the system had for sale.
The United Methodist Church in Mineral Springs has partnered with the school system to get the bus to Haiti, offering to drive it to Florida and then pay the $3,000 necessary for shipping costs.
Johnson said the relief effort involved all of the approximately 430 individuals in the Transportation Department, everyone from the bus mechanics to the approximately 320 UCPS bus drivers.
“This will send a message that we care,” said UCPS bus driver Phyllis Maske. “We care when our brothers and sisters across the world are hurting. This shows we’re all one; we’re all connected in some way or another. It also shows that we can make a difference.”
Johnson anticipates the bus will arrive in Haiti the first or second week of March.

UCPS bus drivers are pictured above helping load walkers and crutches collected during the week of Feb. 15, 2010, in a UCPS Transportation Department event called “Stuff the Bus,” a relief effort for the earthquake victims of Haiti.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Feb 24, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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