Grants, community support keep BOB the Bus on the road

Jay Brower, far right, with employees and volunteers in front of BOB the Bus.

It is said that generosity breeds more generosity. The men and women who rely on the kindness of strangers during hard times often feel the need to “pay it forward” when they’re able to.

That’s exactly what happened this summer when a woman knocked on the door at Bethel’s district office and said she wanted to make a donation. The woman, who lives at a local mobile home park, said she was inspired after seeing the Bethel Outreach Bus, or BOB, as we affectionately call him, giving away clothing, food, and school supplies near her home.

BOB is part of Bethel’s Community Connections Department. The aim of the bus is to get resources out to the families that need them. During the summer months, BOB generally goes out twice a week, setting up shop in underserved communities.

The woman who recently visited Bethel didn’t have much to give, but she wanted to do her part to help others in need.

“It’s one of the most gratifying feelings I’ve ever felt, because you see those in need, and often people who have so little will visit BOB and say, ‘I have a bag of clothes for kindergarten kids and I would love to bring those,’” said Jay Brower, Bethel’s Director of Community Connections.

Brower and his team are usually the ones helping those in need, but the Community Connections Department couldn’t do what it does without grants and donations.

In just the past several months, the department has been awarded a $135,000 federal grant and a $75,000 state grant to help support the district’s homeless students. They also earned a $4,500 Youth Service America grant to help involve youth and community members in service projects for the upcoming year.

In addition to national and state organizations, a number of local partners have been instrumental in allowing Community Connections to thrive. Each year, the Spanaway branch of Columbia Bank hosts a Stuff the Bus event to benefit Bethel families in need. This year, the branch raised more than $6,000, and the majority of that money will be spent on backpacks and school supplies for local children.

Another Stuff the Bus event, this one sponsored by the Bethel Transportation Department, brings in toys, clothes, food and more for the annual Mom and Pop Christmas Shop.

Community Connections also relies on the support from local partners Anytime Fitness Spanaway, Toray Composite Materials America, local Verizon stores, and World Vision, among many others.

“We’re extremely grateful for all the partners who work with us to serve all of our students and families in the Bethel community, particularly those who need us most. In turn, we put all the safeguards in place to utilize every single dollar to make sure that students and families truly benefit,” Brower said.

Learn more and find out how you can help Community Connections here.

Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.

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