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City of Lodi looking for food to Stuff the Bus

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Posted: Saturday, November 13, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 1:07 pm, Mon Nov 15, 2010.

While heading into Food-4-Less, Denise Alacar ran into an old friend who told her about the food drive going on outside and handed her a checklist of requested items.

As she walked out of the store, she handed a box of apple stuffing mix to the volunteers.

"Usually I don't have the extra money to spend, but I thought I can do something small. ... Making someone smile or laugh is the best medicine." Alacar said.

For the first time, Lodi is participating in the Stuff the Bus drive this weekend. The city is encouraging people to bring or purchase food to the Food-4-Less parking lot to help fill a Lodi GrapeLine bus. All of the food will be donated to the Salvation Army.

Volunteers will collect food from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. On Friday, local radio station KWIN did live broadcasts from the food drives as people dropped off one or two items or bags of food.

Shopping carts in front of the bus were filled with two turkeys, biscuits and pancake mix, bags of potatoes, macaroni shells and oatmeal.

Nora Maney brought three large boxes of ramen noodles to drop off at the food drive.

"I listen every year. This year me and my husband have been blessed, so we are doing little stuff here and there," Maney said.

The San Joaquin Regional Transit District started the drive 12 years ago in Stockton. It recruited Lodi and Manteca to participate this year.

Julia Tyack, transportation planner, and Patsy Tucker, administrative clerk, organized the event and teamed up with MV Transportation, the contractor in charge of the GrapeLine buses.

It is important for city staff to be involved in community activities and give back to Lodi, Tyack said.

"It's a good thing to be part of a regional project because working together we can help more people," she said. "Especially in this economy, it's important to be giving back."

On Friday, local radio station KWIN did live broadcasts from the food drives as people dropped off one or two items or bags of food.

One day in Stockton last year, more than 8,000 pounds of food was collected, Maui Hernandez of KWIN said.

The station has promoted the food drives all week.

"Our radio station is really involved. We are out in the streets everyday doing stuff to try and bring a positive vibe," Meilani Cearley, of KWIN, said.

While passing out fliers listing what items the food drive was collecting, Jessica Fernandez said she once was homeless with her children. She knows how much people appreciate the help and enjoys volunteering with the Salvation Army.

"It makes you appreciate life and other people's needs," she said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodi news.com or read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/city_buzz.

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