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Generous shoppers ‘Stuff the Bus’ for needy families

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Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2012 12:24 pm | Updated: 1:10 pm, Sat Nov 17, 2012.

A cold wind and scattered showers didn’t stop generous shoppers or determined volunteers from filling up a city bus with groceries for needy families on Saturday. 

The “Stuff the Bus” campaign has run for three years. One GrapeLine bus, 32 feet long, was parked in the lot outside Food 4 Less on Kettleman through Sunday. 

Volunteers from the City of Lodi, the Salvation Army and local high schools were managing the tented headquarters on the west side of the lot. 

The bus was decked out in two large waterproof banners heralding the event, donated by the Lodi City Employees Association. 

Transportation planner Julia Tyack was busily hopping from the bus, to the store fronts and back to her volunteers to check on everyone. 

“Every year people know about it, and they expect it, so we do pretty well,” she said. 

Student volunteers stood on the corner of Lower Sacramento Road and Kettleman Lane with large yellow signs encouraging shoppers to donate. 

More students were stationed outside the doors to Food 4 Less handing out lists of item suggestions, including peanut butter, mashed potato mixes, canned fruits, veggies and meats and cereal products. 

Alexis Summers, 16, was decked out in purple from head to toe, passing out lists to shoppers. The Tokay student said she likes to donate her time to help others. 

“It’s to help donate food to a better place,” she said, grinning despite the cold. 

Andrea Cunningham, 16,  was also handing out lists, and said she didn’t mind spending her Saturday this way.

“Some kids think they have something better to do. But this is worth my time,” she said. 

This year, Wal-Mart allowed volunteers to hand out the lists outside their store, too. 

Back at the bus, Fred Danielson of Woodbridge pushed a cart with three bags of groceries in it toward the volunteers from the Salvation Army. 

“I’m going in [the store] anyway. Why not do something nice for the holiday?” he said, handing over some cans of green beans and a few boxes of Cheerios. 

By 10:30 a.m., someone had donated a $500 check, and the back seats of the bus were filling quickly. 

“The manager of Food 4 Less said this is the biggest shopping weekend of the year, so the whole bus should fill today,” said Paula Fernandez, overseer for the Lodi transit system. “We appreciate the community supporting this.”

All donations will go to filling emergency food boxes for families in need that signed up with the Lodi Salvation Army. They expect to provide 1,000 boxes, each with a frozen turkey, too, said Barry Crall of the Salvation Army. 

Last year, over 8,000 pounds of food were donated, enough to provide 6500 meals for hungry families. 

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com

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