Community Impact Education Pathway Faces of Success: Sonya Shockley
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Faces of Success: Sonya Shockley

Metropolitan Nashville Public School (MNPS) students head back to school next week. While some are disappointed about the end of their summer vacations, others can’t wait for the start of a new school year. Bridgestone Americas employee Sonya Shockley also eagerly anticipates the first day of school.

“The first day is an amazing experience,” said Shockley. “Last year, I remember watching the children step off of their school buses; you knew they were excited to get started.”

Shockley was one of 870 volunteers from 79 different Nashville corporations who participated in last year’s Stuff the Bus Days of Action. United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s largest volunteer opportunities of the year bring corporate and community partners together through a series of five unique opportunities (Collection Drives, Corporate Challenge, Field Day, Sort-a-Thon and Backpack Delivery). All are designed to provide backpacks full of school supplies to vulnerable Nashville children. Bridgestone Americas has served as presenting sponsor of Stuff the Bus Days of Action for three consecutive years. They are joined by the Tennessee Titans as Stuff the Bus Days of Action sponsors this year. UPS also returns as delivery partner.

Shockley appreciates working for a company that is committed to improving the communities where its employees live and work. She realizes Stuff the Bus Days of Action not only provides backpacks and school supplies to children in need but also allows them to begin the school year with confidence and dignity.

“Last year, one little girl arrived at school with a big smile on her face. As she approached the building, her entire temperament changed. I tried to find out what was troubling her; that’s when she explained she didn’t have any school supplies. I gave her a hug and told her not to worry.”

An estimated 75 percent of MNPS students are economically disadvantaged. Many of their parents can’t afford to purchase school supplies for them. Shockley understands the difficulties these parents face when it comes to purchasing school supplies for their children.  

“I’m a single mother who has always budgeted for school supplies for my children. For a child to feel inadequate because they don’t have pencils or other supplies is unimaginable.”

Over the past eight years, Stuff the Bus Days of Action has provided backpacks full of school supplies to more than 28,600 vulnerable Nashville students and 396 teachers at benefiting schools. This year’s goal is to furnish 8,500 students at nine different MNPS elementary schools with backpacks containing school supplies through Stuff the Bus Days of Action. This outpouring of support and generosity creates environments where learning can begin on the first day of the new school year for Nashville’s next generation of employees and leaders.

“The backpacks and school supplies empower children and set them up for immediate success. It is truly eye-opening to see how Bridgestone Americas, United Way and additional Nashville corporations partner to impact educational outcomes of children in this community.”

United Way is grateful to all of our effective, committed partners who help us improve community conditions at scale by addressing the educational needs of vulnerable Nashville children through Stuff the Bus Days of Action.

To donate school supplies for 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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