Tuba City school bus drivers give back to community

Tuba City Unified School District (TCUSD) Transportation Department employees get ready to distribute turkeys and food boxes with all the holiday trimmings to 10 local families for Thanksgiving.   Pictured from left: Devin Peshlakai, Franklin Williams, Arnold Begay, Heather Williams, TCUSD Transportation Director Orson Bigman, Myrinda Williams, Marvin Nez, TCUSD Head Mechanic Nolan Dempsey and Navajo Hopi Honor Rider Arsenio Brown. Photo/Rosanda Suetopka

Tuba City Unified School District (TCUSD) Transportation Department employees get ready to distribute turkeys and food boxes with all the holiday trimmings to 10 local families for Thanksgiving. Pictured from left: Devin Peshlakai, Franklin Williams, Arnold Begay, Heather Williams, TCUSD Transportation Director Orson Bigman, Myrinda Williams, Marvin Nez, TCUSD Head Mechanic Nolan Dempsey and Navajo Hopi Honor Rider Arsenio Brown. Photo/Rosanda Suetopka

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Tuba City School District Transportation Department employees wanted to do something to give back to their community and students this year by restarting an old department tradition of collecting whole turkeys and boxes of holiday food to give to at least 10 families in their community.

The daily bus commute to school on the Hopi and Navajo reservations can be an hour each way to and from the Tuba City District. That gives each bus driver plenty of time to meet and get to know students and their parents.

The year-round bonding and personal exchange gives the district's bus drivers a chance to see how students live, how far they must travel to be in a supportive and challenging school environment and how committed their parents are to helping their students get a good education, despite the long hours on the bus.

This year, those 10 turkeys with the trimmings went to local families, two of which have veterans as the head of the household.

Orson Bigman, Tuba City District transportation director, said it has been awhile since transportation staff put on a Turkey Drive.

"We wanted to have everything donated from just among ourselves, our department employees, kinda low key and so we weren't asking for donations from the outside stores or community people.," Bigman said. "So our individual department employees bought the turkeys and then everyone donated all the sides to make the 10 boxes that we could deliver before the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Bigman said it took less than a week for all of the food donations to come together.

"Then we sorted the food out and put it in boxes for delivery here at our office," he said. "It's a good way to show appreciation for our students and their families and for our community in general."

The bus drivers delivered the boxes of food the week before Thanksgiving on their own time and in their own vehicles which made the turkey dinner surprise even more personal.

"Its been almost 10 years since we last did this, but it felt so good that our employees want to start this again as an annual thing," Bigman said. "We are hoping that our little gift can awaken this special appreciation in all of us throughout the year."

BIgman also mentioned that the District is looking for more bus drivers.

"We currently are looking for two more bus drivers and they don't have to have any training, but they need to have a valid driver's license," he said. "We will provide all training and certification. It's a good job and you get to meet families who live and work right here with all of us through the daily bus run."

More information about the bus driver positions is available at (928) 283-1130.

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