Locals to ‘Stuff the Bus’ for Crisis Center


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The Johnson County Crisis Center is turning to public transportation for some fundraising help this weekend.

In the annual fundraiser “Stuff the Bus,” an Iowa City Transit bus will travel to four local Hy-Vee locations on Saturday, asking shoppers to contribute food or money to the Crisis Center.

The event is hosted by The Daily Iowan, Hy-Vee, Iowa City Transit, and local radio station AM-800 KXIC.

This year’s “Stuff the Bus” is particularly important, because the Crisis Center saw a 25 percent increase in requests for food bags after the onset of the economic recession in November 2008. The need has remained roughly the same since then.

The Crisis Center needs around 15,000 pounds of food per week, which it distributes to Johnson County residents, said Beth Ritter Ruback,the director of communications and development for the center.

In 2009, the food bank received more than 221,000 pounds of food items, she said.

And though the national economy seems to be improving slightly, she said, the effects are not always felt locally.

“The kinds of economic indicators used to check the state of the economy do not yet affect what is going on in people’s wallets,” she said. “We will always need donations.”

On average, 4,000 Johnson County residents benefit from the roughly 3,000 food bags each month.

One food bag weighs approximately 15 pounds and can feed a family of three to four people, Ritter Ruback said.

Bill Casey, the publisher of The Daily Iowan, said he was originally inspired by a similar event at Iowa State University two years ago when looking for a civic project to involve the paper’s marketing staff.

The DI’s existing relationship with both Hy-Vee and Iowa City Transit made the “Stuff the Bus” event a natural choice, Casey said.

“It’s been a gratifying thing to do, to help the Crisis Center, because it helps so many in the community,” Casey said.

Other local businesses also share the fulfillment of participating in “Stuff the Bus.”

Steven Grace, a program director at KXIC, said participating in the event is something the radio station enjoys doing to help the community.

“It’s just amazing to see people come, whether they have two cans of green beans or a grocery cart of food,” he said. “It’s great to see people’s generosity.”

If customers can’t donate food on Saturday, financial donations allow the Crisis Center to purchase large quantities of food at a cheaper cost, Ritter Ruback said.

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