Normally the term “get stuffed” isn’t a very pleasant one, but on Dec. 2 in Nakusp, people were more than happy to help the food bank get stuffed in the annual Stuff the Bus food drive.
The event has been taking place for the last 13 years, with all food and funds donated going toward the Nakusp Food Bank for its Christmas hamper program during the holiday season.
Though Stuff the Bus was only a four hour event, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., by 11:30 a.m. the entire floor of the community bus was filled with bags of non-perishable goods.
“There are a lot of families in need and they’re all so appreciative of everything that they get,” said Anne Miskulin, volunteer coordinator at Arrow and Slocan Lakes Community Services.
Normally Stuff the Bus takes place on a Saturday, but with all of the activities involving the celebration of light taking place throughout the day, it was decided the event should take place when all the action was happening.
Dec. 2 was also the CBC Provincial Food Bank Day.
Many people stopped by to drop something off, including Jenna Arnold’s Grade 4/5 class from Nakusp Elementary School.
Arnold’s class had been collecting goods for two weeks, and were able to fill a child’s wagon with food, singing Christmas carols as they walked from the school to Overwaitea, where the bus was parked.
“We were just talking about the holidays, and promoting wellness and good cheer for the community of Nakusp, and we’ve been doing a lot of projects. We raised money for PALS a couple of weeks ago so this was an extended gesture of to help the community,” said Arnold.
Something new this year at Stuff the Bus was Anne Barrington and Marilyn McKinnon, who brought 38 quilts to give away in exchange for a donation as a way to raise money for the Christmas hamper program.
Baby blankets were given for a donation of $20, and denim quilts, which were bigger and came in various sizes, were given with a donation of $25 to $35.
“It’s really nice to have something that you can throw in the back of your car in case you need something, especially travelling in the mountains here,” said McKinnon. “It’s a denim quilt, so you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged, these things are indestructible.”
In total, the pair raised $895, with all proceeds going to the food bank.
While residents always give what they can, sometimes a certain group, through no one’s fault, is overlooked. For example, when giving gifts, there are always plenty for the toddlers, and younger children, but there isn’t usually a lot for teenagers who might be in need.
Though Nakusp may be small, it is generous.
Because of the donations from the 2015 Stuff the Bus event, 132 families in need in the area were able to have a Christmas dinner they might not otherwise have been able to afford.
Though it’s hard to say why there are so many families in need, Miskulin has a theory.
“I think they’re just struggling,” she said. “Some of them are lack of work, or not as much work because they had to go down because of what’s happened up in the oil rigs, and a lot of single moms and fathers with their children are trying to make ends meet.”
Christmas hampers will be delivered on Dec. 22. Each one will contain enough food for a breakfast, lunch, and supper, with a few other items thrown in. They will be going to families in Nakusp, Burton, Fauquier, and Edgewood.