Residents to “stuff the bus” for Crisis Center


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For six years, the bus for the “Stuff the Bus” has been packed full of food.

But Johnson County residents haven’t let the confines of a bus stop them in recent years. They have started to donate something that takes up a lot less space: money.

And Beth Ritter Ruback, the communications and development director for the Crisis Center of Johnson County, said officials hope the trend continues.

On Saturday, an Iowa City transit bus will make stops at four Johnson County Hy-Vee locations to collect food donations from shoppers.

“It’s easier for us if we’re in front of a grocery store, because if people are going in, they’ll pick up a couple of things and bring them right out,” said J.J. Cook, the operations manager for AM 800 KXIC.

Hy-Vee, Iowa City Transit, AM-800 KXIC, and The Daily Iowan plan to work together on the event.
KXIC will be covering the event from each location with two breaks every hour, Cook said.

Organizers said the Stuff the Bus event aims to promote items the Crisis Center is running low on.

The Crisis Center distributes a list of the top-10 items it needs. The list includes rice and pasta, laundry detergent, baby formula and food, and baby wipes. But money is at the top of its list for donations.

Because the Crisis Center gets hefty discounts on many food items — such as 50 cents for a bag of cereal — they keep items that they have the opportunity to purchase off the list.

“We can take a dollar further than you can take it at the grocery store,” Ritter Ruback said.
The Crisis Center distributes more than 60,000 pounds of food each month, and has not seen a decrease in donations with the recession, she said.

The Crisis Center obtains about 25 percent of its food through financial grants and the other 75 percent through donations. Financial donations give variety to the center’s food.

The bus will stop at the Coralville Hy-Vee on Highway 6 from 9 to 10:30 a.m., the Waterfront Hy-Vee from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the First Avenue Hy-Vee from 1 to 2:30 p.m., and the North Dodge Hy-Vee from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Curtis Brenton, operations supervisor for the Iowa City Transportation Service, said two drivers will take shifts driving to the four Hy-Vee locations.

Cook, who has been with the radio station since the start of the event, said the sense of fulfillment of helping the Crisis Center makes it all worth it.

“It’s why we continue to do it,” he said. “It’s one of the big promotions, and it needs the help.”

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