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Fill-A-Bus campaign aims high in 2011

Bus drivers see a lot of things that many other people don’t. They see people in need, trying to squeeze by from paycheque to paycheque.

Bus drivers see a lot of things that many other people don’t. They see people in need, trying to squeeze by from paycheque to paycheque.

That’s why it’s so important for many of these drivers to run a successful Fill-a-Bus event in support of the St. Albert Kinettes’ annual Christmas hamper campaign. The Kinettes say that without it, a lot of hampers wouldn’t be filled.

“The Fill-a-Bus is absolutely huge,” emphasized Kinette club member Donna Lefebvre. Seventy-five per cent of what we get, we get from the Fill-a-Bus.”

The one-day event sees several St. Albert Transit buses stationed at prominent local stores.

Organizers remind that there aren’t similar charities or groups (like Santas Anonymous, Toys for Tots, The Mustard Seed and The Christmas Bureau) operating inside St. Albert city limits.

This year’s Fill-a-Bus takes place next Saturday Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Buses will be located at both Save-On Foods, both Safeways, Sobeys, Superstore and Canadian Tire. Non-perishable food goods, toys and monetary donations will be accepted. Some posters that have been distributed stating that it runs until 5 p.m. but that is incorrect.

“We need to get the buses in and out of there fast this year,” Lefebvre added.

Then the Kinettes and their volunteers kick into overdrive, compiling and sorting the donations into hampers before they are all delivered between Wednesday, Dec. 14 and Thursday, Dec. 15.

“That’s when we go hard. It’s a long five days for us,” Lefebvre said.

Last year more than 200 hampers were distributed to local families. The Kinettes hope this year to bring in enough donations to support as many as 220 families.

If you ask bus driver Dave Stevenson, he’s aiming for 250. Stevenson organizes the event and wants to brighten the silent nights of as many local residents as possible.

“Your donation will help put a smile on a child’s or adult’s face who thought Christmas might not come this year,” he explained.

That’s why so much importance and effort is placed into this one day of collections. Each of the seven buses would likely have four or five drivers assisting the public with their donations, Stevenson said. That also makes it a large and concentrated volunteer effort.

Stevenson was on the bus that was featured during last Friday’s Snowflake Festival. He hopes that next Saturday proves to be more fruitful.

“We got about 10 boxes of food and a couple boxes of toys. It was mainly for an eye-opener to get people to come out on the 10th. Bring a can of beans, anything,” he entreated the public.

The goal of the Christmas hamper program is to provide an entire month’s worth of food to each struggling family and to ensure that they can cover their basic necessities and enjoy a pleasant holiday season.

“I think that we shouldn’t have to do this … but we have to, so we’re doing it,” he said.

The staff at St. Albert Transit is happy to help too by making the buses available for such a worthwhile cause.

Planning and customer service manager Will Steblyk said, “We are very proud to be part of the Fill-a-Bus campaign and to support residents in our community.”

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ecology and Environment Reporter at the Fitzhugh Newspaper since July 2022 under Local Journalism Initiative funding provided by News Media Canada.
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