Together HOPE Happens

Fill the Bus Essentials Drive

By Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director

Items Requested: 
Paper products toilet paper, paper towels, Trash bags, Cleaning wipes and sprays- disinfectant, bathroom cleaner, windex, all purpose cleaner, Laundry soap, Dish soap, feminine hygiene products.

Have you ever gone to grab a paper towel, toilet paper, or even soap and realized you had none? There is a pretty good chance you simply forgot to buy some on your last shopping trip. What if I told you there were families in Charlotte County struggling to afford these everyday essentials, and sometimes going without?

For years, we have had the benefit of local Rotarians who invest as UWCC board members and who also commit to incredible service in Charlotte County through Rotary. Currently, Rotarians who serve on our board include Alfred Current and Kathryn Wallace. Several years ago, I had the honor of being named a Paul Harris Fellow, through a previous UWCC board member and Rotarian, Tom Cappiello and this meant the world to me.

Next week the Rotary International District 6960 conference will be held in Charlotte County, thanks to Alfred Current, the Immediate Past Governor for District 6960, and his efforts to bring this incredible group of leaders here. With that event, up to 300 Rotary club members from all over Florida will bring with them give back opportunities.

Alfred asked the UWCC team for ideas and the ‘Fill the Bus’ essentials drive came to fruition. These items are not only essential, taken for granted by some, but they are basic and needed for far too many in our community.

With a widely known passion for community schools, Alfred states, “It is tradition for the sponsoring governor of the conference to choose a service project to support the hosting community. I understand the needs of public schools and will accept the generosity of our community.”

An equally important group in our community includes the Charlotte County Public School (CCPS) Social Workers. Being a social worker myself, I loved meeting with them this spring to connect and address pressing needs of many families, especially ALICE households. It became evident that while food pantries are stocked with food, there is a crucial shortage of non-food items.

This list of items we are requesting are toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, hand soaps, cleaning wipes and disinfectant sprays, laundry soap, dish soap, feminine hygiene products, and all purpose cleaners. These necessities are not only costly but also ineligible for purchase with food stamps making it challenging for families to acquire them. 

Upon listening to the social workers, UWCC now has several areas where we can mobilize resources for the CCPS to assist families this next year, the first being the ‘Fill the Bus’ event. Are you ready to make a difference? Let’s set the schools up with all they need to serve and do it in partnership with our fellow Rotarians.

Because there is such a demand in Charlotte County, we invite you to donate essentials and help us fill the bus.  The school bus will be at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center on Friday and Saturday, July 12 & 13 from 8am – 11am.  For more information about Rotary, Fill the Bus volunteer project, and a list of items, please visit:

Our theme of HOPE aligns with that of the Rotarians. The culture of Rotary is definitely service above self and we are thankful for the collaboration.

For more information about United Way of Charlotte County’s mission:  Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, please contact Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director. She can be reached at