It’s that time of the year again! For me, Thanksgiving, family, and good, comfort food are always the best parts of fall. But for some people, this time of year can be difficult due to an empty cupboard. Luckily, WIU can help with that. Western Illinois University’s annual Stuff the Bus program helps families in need during the holiday season. Eva Galbraith, marketing manager for Sodexo Campus Dining Services and the initiator of the event at WIU, is always overwhelmed by the success of the yearly event.
WIU’s first Stuff the Bus event began in 2008. Stuff the Bus has become more than just a yearly event, it is a campus tradition for many students. Stuff the Bus is a food drive where students, faculty and staff collect food donations around the Macomb and Western community. Sodexo and Go West Transit, the University bus system, have been working in conjunction for six years now, sponsoring this food drive. “There is an overwhelming response; students love doing the event,” happily explained Galbraith.
More than 674 people signed up to volunteer this year. Volunteers help with the collection and distribution of the collected foods. “We all do a little which helps a lot,” stated Galbraith. The donations are collected in residence halls, office and academic buildings, and at many of the local grocery stores. The volunteers have collected canned goods in front of the grocery stores. On campus, they have pushed grocery carts around, collecting donations, and even filled a bus with donated food in front of Sherman Hall, hence the event name “Stuff the Bus.”
The donations collected will be given to Loaves and Fishes Etc., a community food pantry in Macomb which is run through the First United Presbyterian Church. Part of the collected food will also be given to other organizations for their community programs, such as the RA Council, and the Black Student Association (BSA). The BSA will use the donations to package 250 Thanksgiving dinners and deliver them to families in the Macomb community.
Students from numerous organizations are pulling together to help others in need, which is quite commendable. “I used to hear a lot of the bad the college students were doing, and I thought you guys (the community) need to hear the wonderful things the students do,” said Galbraith explaining some of her reasoning behind starting the food drive at Western.
The holidays are a great way to give back to the less fortunate. I have donated some canned goods to the Stuff the Bus food drive. I wish I could do more, but as Galbraith said, if we all do a little it CAN help a lot.