'Bob the Bus' fundraiser aims to help student flood victims


When a person drives a school bus for three years, they can get close to their young passengers.

So when floodwaters submerge houses and displace “your kids,” a bus driver will do whatever they can to help the families, says Tonni Shirley, who drives “Bob the Bus” for Durham School Services, which provides transportation services for Hardin County Schools.

"Bob the Bus," freshly washed and waxed

Several of the kids Bob the Bus takes to school have experienced extreme losses in the latest Tennessee River flood, the third highest on record. Some homes have been completely submerged. Children riding other Hardin County buses have also been severely affected by floods.

A fundraiser sponsored by Durham School Services and The Smokin’ Pig food concession trailer will be held in Savannah at the Lowe’s store parking lot on Saturday, March 16, starting at 11 a.m.

“Bob the Bus is quite popular with the kids at West Hardin Elementary. At Christmastime he wears antlers and a red nose. The kids love him,” said Shirley, whose bus route travels through River Heights and Catfish Lane in Crump. “What began as a fundraiser for West Hardin kids quickly grew to cover all flood victims whose kids ride Hardin County buses.”

She said everything is being donated so 100 percent of the proceeds go to help flood victim families “with their urgent cash needs.”

Bob the Bus, who seems “almost real to many children,” will be at the fundraiser event featuring music, barbecue plates, sandwiches and family packs. The barbecue meal, donated and prepared by Teresa Turnbow at The Smokin’ Pig, includes slaw, potato salad and baked beans. Meals are for sit down or to go.

Donations are also being accepted under the name “Bob’s Kids” at Central Bank, GoFundMe and Facebook.