The Area 10 Agency on Aging, a private nonprofit group in Ellettsville, will organize a ‘Stuff-A-Bus’ food pantry event from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Volunteers will collect non-perishable food donations outside of four Kroger grocery stores in the Bloomington and Ellettsville areas. The volunteers will load the goods onto a bus headed back to their pantry locations at Area 10 and First United Church on Third Street.
Area 10 will encourage shoppers at Kroger on Saturday to pick up some extra items for the food pantry and drop them off on their way out the door. The agency’s pantry provides goods to homebound seniors who cannot drive themselves to a grocery store.
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Area 10 pantry Coordinator Lesa Hofferth said the pantry volunteers deliver groceries to 275 clients each month. Hofferth, who joined Area 10 during the pandemic, said she’s excited to help with this year’s event.
“It’s my very first one,” Hofferth said. “I can’t wait to see it roll out. I hear it’s a lot of fun.”
Area 10 Executive Director Chris Myers said the typically bi-annual “Stuff-A-Bus” event has been put on hold since before the start of the pandemic in December 2019 in order to avoid the public contact it requires. She said the event ran for about five years before then.
“Being able to actually receive donations again is a huge thing for us,” Myers said. “We’ve got a lot of empty shelves right now and just seeing foods back on there will make me feel a whole lot better going into the winter.”
She said the event will be run by volunteers from six local elder care facilities, an Ellettsville Girl Scout Troop and a group of IU students. Myers said she’s especially grateful for this year’s volunteers.
Eric Ashby, a second year graduate student, organized a group of fellow arts administration students to help with this year’s event. Ashby said he reached out to representatives at IU Corps, an office on campus that connects students with volunteering opportunities, in hopes of finding a group activity for arts administration students.
Ashby said he and several other arts administration students are active volunteers in the Bloomington community, and that many students work on an individual basis with local groups. He said this event will be the first time they volunteer as a group, and he’s excited for students to explore different areas of the local nonprofit community.
He said he was also drawn to Area 10’s Stuff-A-Bus because he felt personally connected to the work they do with aging adults. Ashby witnessed his parents and grandparents age, and he said he feels it's important to support people as they grow older.
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“Services to support folks as they get older are really critical,” Ashby said. “Area 10 Agency on Aging has a lot of wonderful services that are really holistic in nature, covering a lot of different elements and challenges that you might face as you get older.”
Area 10 offers services to older adults in several stages of aging. The organization not only delivers groceries, but it also has an enrichment center that offers arts and fitness classes, provides public transit, connects adults with affordable housing and leads several other community efforts.
Julie Seaford, the Business Development Director at Mccormick’s Creek Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, stressed the necessity of Area 10’s resources. Seaford said McCormick’s Creek has partnered with Area 10 for at least 12 years in various aspects of elder care.
Seaford said she’s looking forward to meeting people Saturday and enjoying the connection with seniors through the food pantry.
“When you go into the homes and you see the people that are in need and the seniors in their lonesome, just to be able to see them for a minute really brightens their day,” Seaford said.