Despite a global pandemic, organizers described Pasadena’s recent annual Fill the Bus campaign to provide school supplies for students as a rousing success, garnering $33,000 in cash donations and enough school supplies for needy youths to fill 17 pallets.

“I’m just moved and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and compassion our community has for our children,” said Tish Eubanks, the city of Pasadena’s education liaison. “I didn’t expect to collect monetarily what I collected because two of our major donors backed out, which is understandable (given the coronavirus). But to be honest, we got more donations this year than last year.”

Eubanks said that cash donations were $3,000 more than the $30,000 collected during the event in 2019.

While the monetary donations are always welcomed, the big star of Fill the Bus is the huge amount of school supplies contributed by the community.

Last year, donations filled 12 school buses. This time around, a different unit of measure was used.

“We packed up about 17 pallets with school supplies, and each pallet weighed from 300 to 500 pounds,” Eubanks said. “We put supplies on school buses (before), but they’re a pain to unload. The seats are little. (But) one pallet would be about the same as a (filled) school bus.”

Once the supplies are sorted, Pasadena ISD teachers will be able to stroll along through the boxes containing the materials, taking what they need for their classrooms. The date for pickup has not been determined, Eubanks said.

In years past, the major drop-off location was at Pasadena City Hall. But, due to COVID-19 and the blistering summer heat, the Aug. 10 event was moved to the Pasadena Convention Center.

This is the third go-round for Fill the Bus, which is put on by a partnership between the city of Pasadena, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and the school district.

“When the city, the chamber and the school district came together, it’s a powerful force,” Mayor Jeff Wagner said.

Eubanks said that she got the idea for the school supply drive after she saw her son, Drew, purchase 150 spiral notebooks for his science students at Jackson Intermediate School.

Before that, Eubanks, who spent 22 years in the classroom before becoming an assistant principal at Pasadena Memorial High School, had seen supplies donated to schools, but go unused.

“That’s when I thought about giving the supplies to the teachers,” she said. “Meeting the students’ need through the teacher is the smart thing to do, because the teachers know their children.”

John DeLapp is a freelance writer. He can be contacted at