Community Impact Education Pathway Faces of Success: Melissa Higginbotham
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Title Education Pathway

Faces of Success: Melissa Higginbotham

Experience can increase awareness about the urgency of a particular situation. Melissa Higginbotham understands some of the economic barriers of students at Tusculum Elementary School. The Gresham, Smith and Partners employee appreciates the urgency of their situation because she attended the school as a child.

“The investments we make now are going to shape our future because these children are our future,” said Higginbotham.

Higginbotham has volunteered during United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s Stuff the Bus Days of Action each of the past two years. Her experience at last year’s Stuff the Bus Sort-a-Thon was memorable.

“There were so many different companies working together as a team. We went during our lunch break, jumped right in and knocked out a great deal in a short period of time. It was a well-organized and streamlined event.”

The Stuff the Bus Days of Action Sort-a-Thon is one of five unique opportunities (Collection Drives, Corporate Challenge, Field Day, Sort-a-Thon and Backpack Delivery) that United Way corporate partners can participate in during Stuff the Bus Days of Action. United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s largest volunteer opportunities of the year bring together corporate and community partners to provide backpacks full of school supplies for vulnerable Nashville children.

“The Sort-a-Thon was a very easy process,” said Higginbotham. “Everybody worked together and communicated well. It was such a good feeling to see all of the boxes loaded onto UPS trucks.”

An estimated 75 percent of Metropolitan Nashville Public School (MNPS) students are economically disadvantaged. Many of their parents can’t afford to purchase school supplies for them.

Last year, 870 volunteers from 79 different corporations partnered to provide backpacks full of school supplies to 8,000 vulnerable Nashville children at eight different Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools — including Tusculum Elementary School — 18 United Way Family Resource Centers and 31 partner agencies through Stuff the Bus. Bridgestone served as presenting sponsor, and UPS was United Way’s delivery partner. Higginbotham remembers the impact of the Sort-a-Thon on her colleagues.

“We all walked around with big smiles on our faces for the rest of the day; it left a great impression on everyone. Personally, I couldn’t wait for my next volunteer opportunity at the Stuff the Bus Backpack Delivery on the first day of school. I was excited to see how the children reacted to all of our hard work.”

The hard work, support and generosity from a caring community committed to addressing the educational needs of Nashville’s most vulnerable children over the past eight years has provided backpacks and school supplies to more than 28,600 students and 396 teachers at benefiting schools. This year’s goal is to furnish 8,500 MNPS students with backpacks and school supplies. The backpacks allow children to begin the school year with confidence and dignity. They also promote an environment where learning can begin on the first day of school.

“Small children look to adults for guidance and positive interaction. Stuff the Bus is a great way for organizations to work together to have a large impact on their community.”

Stuff the Bus Days of Action helps organizations better understand the urgent educational needs of Nashville’s next generation of employees and leaders. When these organizations partner with United Way through Stuff the Bus Days of Action, they are helping improve community conditions at scale. United Way is grateful to all of our effective, committed corporate partners. Their generosity is providing education essentials to a larger number of vulnerable Nashville students this school year through Stuff the Bus Days of Action.

To get involved in Stuff the Bus Days of Action, please visit: unitedwaynashville.org/stuffthebus

To learn more about United Way's Education programs, click here.
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