Clean out your pantry folks, it’s time to Stuff the Bus.
Trail Transit Services is hosting its second annual event this weekend with plans of beating its successful run in 2014 when over 5,500 pounds of food and warm clothing were stuffed into a bus and later delivered to the Salvation Army in Trail.
“Nationwide, food bank trips have been going up, they’re higher now than they were in 2008 after the financial crisis,” said Trevor Stach, general manager of Trail Transit Services. “This is that opportunity to get people to donate and to give what they can right before the holidays when it can do the most good and hopefully make people’s lives just a little bit brighter during the holidays.”
Moving to a weekend event has its perks and pitfalls, he adds, noting that foot traffic may be limited this Saturday. But he’s hopeful making the event even bigger this year will result in more community giving.
This year’s full-day event is set for Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Ferraro Foods in Trail. In addition to collecting non-perishable goods and winter wear for the food bank, Trail Transit will host a BBQ by donation lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on site. Salvation Army’s Kettle kickoff will also be ringing, and bus passengers travelling through Greater Trail will be given the option of paying with a non-perishable food item that day, too.
“I’m not sure what makes it different from (donating) regularly,” added Stach. “I think it just reminds people that there is a need and here is an opportunity to go down and see it put to work.”
Stach borrowed the idea from Victoria when he became general manager three years ago and saw an opportunity to start up a couple community events locally. Trail Transit is the local operator of BC Transit, which services Greater Trail and Castlegar.
Last year’s Stuff the Bus was a big success with most of the 30-foot bus filling up with donated goods and this year should bring even more good will with a 35-foot bus set for Ferraro’s parking lot.
“It took a team of 15 volunteers at the Salvation Army 25 minutes to unload the bus (last year), it was quite full,” recalled Stach. “In fact, we collected so much clothing that they had to take up loads of clothing separately.”
The food and clothing go to the Salvation Army’s food bank, and soup kitchen but overspill will be shared with other local food banks.
“It means that we don’t have to worry as much,” said Linda Radtke, manager of Trail Salvation Army. “It was fantastic last year. Not only with the food but with the coats and the mittens and the boots and the winter wear, it gave a lot of people something warm to wear.”
She’s hoping the response is just as strong this year since the need is up.
“Just with every-day hampers, lately, the need has been tremendous,” she adds. ” I’d say we’ve increased this month in November alone by about 30 per cent.”
There is a new trend of young families using the local service, too, some new to the area and with a few children. But Radtke is confident Stuff the Bus will top up the food bank’s cupboards and ensure local people in need are taken care of during the holiday season.
“Trail just keeps on giving, and I’m so proud to say that I live here,” she adds.