Thirty Years of Stuff-A-Bus

This month, CityLink celebrates the 30th year of its Stuff-A-Bus food drive to benefit the Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service. The campaign runs from late October through November 28th, giving residents plenty of time to contribute to the effort to combat hunger in the community. The goal, quite literally, is to stuff a vintage 1975 bus to the brim.

The food drive started small in 1987, with CityLink employees walking door-to-door to collect food. Thirty years later, it’s a massive event, with partners including the Amalgamated Transit Union Local #416, Cumulus Radio, WYZZ-43, WMBD-31, CIProud.com, Kroger and numerous local businesses serving as drop-off centers. All Kroger locations in Peoria and East Peoria accept donations, making it easy for shoppers to contribute when getting their own groceries.

Volunteers amassed an impressive 8.62 tons of donations in 2016, but CityLink Director of Marketing and Public Relations Emily Watson is aiming for 10 tons this year. “Last year we packed the bus a little differently,” she notes. “Our goal this year is to fill the bus with as much food as it can handle, now that we know we can fit even more on it.”

Requested items include non-perishable pantry items, with an emphasis on healthy, high-protein foods, breakfast items and baby formula. Once the collection phase concludes, the donations are weighed and sorted for distribution. It’s a daunting task, with the Peoria Rivermen and Peoria Mustangs pitching in to help unload and sort everything at Friendship House. “It definitely takes a big team effort, a community effort,” Watson says.

And the effort is truly appreciated by struggling members of the community. The Friendship House feeds 50 to 75 families each week; this campaign will fuel their program for about six months. Visit facebook.com/stuffabuspeoria to learn more about Stuff-A-Bus and find stories from families and individuals who have been assisted by Friendship House. To get involved, contact Emily Watson at ewatson@ridecitylink.org. iBi

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