A Bloomington bus will be packed the next Monday morning as it heads to the Salvation Army. However, the bus will not be full of people; rather, it will carry thousands of toys destined for children in Monroe County.
Bloomington Transit is in partnership with WCLS 97.7 on the Stuff-a Bus program. David Bruce, the sales manager for WCLS, said he believes the partnership is great for everyone, including the community.
“It’s a big thing to be involved in,” Bruce said. “It helps everyone at the same time.”
Bruce said Brenda Underwood, the human resource and marking administrator at Bloomington Transit, thought WCLS would be a good match for the event in 2011 when BT first approached WCLS.
The bus is scheduled to appear at different locations from Dec. 1 until Dec. 12. Bruce said as people drive they often stop to give cash donations or toys for Stuff-a-Bus.
“The generosity is unbelievable,” Bruce said. “It’s just people who hear and want to give.”
One person, Debi Jackson, said she was on her way to Indianapolis when she flipped to WCLS. Jackson said she was glad to hear where the bus was because she cannot often make it to the bus to donate.
“I never make it to the others because of my work,” Jackson said.
Jackson stopped and brought with her a gift bag of almost a dozen toys. These toys included sidewalk chalk, spy glasses, magic markers and more. This is her third year of donating to the bus, and she said she was happy to give something.
“It’s a little bag, but a lot was in it,” Jackson said.
Jackson said she has donated for three years because she remembers what it was like being a single mother at Christmas time. She said she would always be forced to buy gifts the day after Christmas because she could not afford the prices before the holiday.
“I love Christmas,” Jackson said. “But there was no extra money.”
The goal for this year is 3,500 toys, which will then be distributed to more than 450 families from the Salvation Army building Dec. 12, Underwood said in a Bloomington Transit press release.
Bruce said he thinks they can reach the goal. He said one year the toys filled the bus all the way to the front doors of the bus and almost spilled out at one point.
“I have every belief we’ll hit that goal and more,” Bruce said.
WCLS and Bloomington Transit are encouraging Bloomington residents and city groups to volunteer to collect donations at the bus as it travels to different locations. Bruce said the important thing is for people to know how this event helps the community.
“It’s important that people know what they give here stays here,” Bruce said.
Having started only five days ago, the bus has had more than 590 toy donations and several cash donations already.
Bruce said he remembered last year when a man handed him four $100 bills. Bruce said he still remembers the shock he felt at the generosity.
“That’s a labor of love,” Bruce said.
Jackson said she hopes Stuff-a-Bus continues in the years to come because she does not want to imagine a child who does not get presents on Christmas Day. Anyone who wants to donate can call Underwood at 812-332-5688.
“I may not see the faces, but it’s not Christmas without buying gifts for the kids,” Jackson said.