Last week, I volunteered at the WIU’s 7th annual “Helping Hands Across America Stuff the Bus” event. All food collected at the Stuff the Bus event was donated to local food pantries such as Loaves and Fishes Etc., the RA Council Salvation Army Thanksgiving Dinner, and the Western Illinois Regional Council Community Action Agency (WIRC-CAA).
It was cool to see all the different organizations and students wanting to lend a hand to help out with this great cause. Everyone seemed very excited to be there and to help “Stuff the Bus”!
Sodexo Dining Services and Go West Transit sponsored this event. A marketing intern for Sodexo at WIU, Brandon Ihrig, explained that 600 to 700 volunteers helped out at the event. People were working to Stuff the Bus from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. last Wednesday. Volunteers covered many aspects of this event…I worked a two-hour shift at the bus site in front of Sherman Hall. Everyone that volunteered received a free t-shirt.
Ihrig advised the Stuff the Bus executive board this year. He said they have been planning and organizing this event since the middle of September. “Without Sodexo’s monetary support and the bus provided by Go West, we would not be able to have this event,” Ihrig said.
You might be wondering how we organized a bus full of food. A couple people would go to a collection point (on campus) with a shopping cart and fill the cart up with donated food, then bring it back to our site, where the bus was. We would then start sorting the food by type. Every type of food had its own box. For example, the canned green beans went in the green bean box, and the macaroni and cheese went in the macaroni and cheese box. We also had a miscellaneous pile for random food donations. Once there was more than one of the items in the miscellaneous pile, we would go ahead and prepare a box for that item.
“I’m not sure at this point how many cans were actually collected; however, I can tell you that the Go West bus was literally ‘packed’,” Ihrig said.
In high school, I collected food for food drives quite often. In college, I wanted to continue my volunteer work. I have been volunteering in different ways from the Adopt a Street program to my sorority’s philanthropic events. I was very thankful that WIU set up this event with two-hour volunteer shifts to allow people with busy schedules, like me, the chance to help collect food for a food drive. It was a very rewarding feeling to help collect food. Food in the back of our cupboards is something most of us take for granted; it is always an eye opener when I volunteer at a food drive.
“My favorite part of the event was just being able to see all the food lying on the ground and on the bus after a long day of volunteering efforts. It was a very gratifying experience,” Ihrig said.
I asked Ihrig if there was anything he wanted WIU alumni and friends reading this blog to know. “Eva Galbraith, the woman who has been in charge of Stuff the Bus for the last seven years, will no longer be with us next year. She deserves a great deal of thanks for all she has done. With that being said, WIU really needs someone to step up and continue this great event for our campus,” Ihrig said.