Despite a change of scenery, the community once again donated hundreds of boxes of school supplies Saturday at the annual Wendy’s Stuff the Bus Live Event.

The fundraiser anchored by D93 WDNS-FM morning show host Tony Rose was held at the Crossroads Express on Scottsville Road from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. In previous years, it was at the old Bluegrass Cellular parking lot.

While there were worries a new location might result in a decrease in donations, Rose said those concerns quickly vanished. By noon Saturday, the bus was already halfway full, and Rose announced the Stuff the Bus Foundation has raised more than $40,000 so far in 2021.

“It’s just really amazing,” he said. “With where we had it for the past 16 years, it was an impulse for people to go by there and donate, but this community has never let us down. Southern Kentucky is truly amazing. People have been pulling up in their vehicles and dropping stuff off like crazy. It’s like we have a built-in drive thru. It’s almost a contactless drop-off.”

Rose saw Saturday’s event as a return to normal after it was held on a smaller, virtual scale in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the past year and a half, we haven’t been able to see smiles,” Rose said. “And now, to see the smiling faces of the people coming out here – they are excited about their kids going back to school. This has always been a symbolic start to the school year, but it’s symbolic this year for a return to how things used to be.”

Businesses such as Houchens Industries, Service One Credit Union, Wendy’s of Bowling Green and Lawless Orthodontics all dropped off donations to help load the school bus on site.

Houchens Industries also dropped off a check for $20,000 for the foundation. Houchens Marketing Manager Kyle Wilson said funds for the donation came from customers who purchased in-store “mobiles” at different IGA locations.

“We have been partnering with the Stuff the Bus Foundation for a couple of years now,” Wilson said. “It’s great to have them out here. We have the famous bus parked out front. We are glad to be a part of this.”

Stuff the Bus Board Member Chip Wilkins said the new location brought about positive results. Even amid the large donations from the community, Wilkins said the goal of the event was not monetary.

“The goal is just to make sure that in the next two weeks when kids show up to their first day of school that everyone is prepared and ready,” he said. “We want to truly level the playing field. Tony has done a great job of expanding this to surrounding counties. It’s not about a number. It’s about making sure these kids are prepared and ready.”

Rose added that the foundation’s “Summer of Giving” program raised $20,000 for local schools on its own.

Donations may be made online at any time at StufftheBusKY.com. Any business that wishes to get involved should email info@StuffTheBusKY.com.

Teachers interested in applying for classroom grants may do so at the website by clicking on the “Grants” tab.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.