Kingston, Ont. Salvation Army hosts Stuff the Bus event amid growing demand

The Salvation Army has been taking food donations during their Stuff the Bus food drives for decades but, this year, officials say there is more than ever on the line with demand soaring.

The Stuff That Bus event is a partnership between Kingston Transit services and the Salvation Army. The city provides a bus and volunteers collect grocery donations to fill it with from the public a few times a year.

Saturday’s drive was held at the No Frills on Cloverdale Ave., near Bath Rd. Bell Media radio stations Kingston’s Move 98.3 and Kingston’s Pure Country 99, were also on hand. Bell Media is the parent company of CTV News.

On Saturday, the community delivered for those in need, filling the bus in a matter of hours.

Donating menstrual products and kitty litter, among other items, is Stephanie Daye.

“It’s a really good cause,” she says. “There are a lot of people struggling right now.”

Daye says she understands that high food prices are hitting families hard.

“Inflation, it still kinda sucks, and things are definitely more expensive, but we can manage,” she explains. “A lot of families can’t manage.”

Salvation Army Captain Nicole Maxwell says the amount of people leaning on the charities this year has grown.

“The need is massive,” she explains.

Maxwell says the donations will go towards filling the Salvation Army’s Food Bank shelves, as well as future Christmas Hampers.

After serving 3,200 households at Christmas last year, organizers are expecting an even larger need this holiday season.

“This year, we’ve seen an average of 30 to 40 new households access our services every month,” explains Maxwell. “We’re expecting the demand on our resources this Christmas is just going to be phenomenal.”

Among those new faces are families and seniors.

“It’s overwhelming when you think about the amount of households in need,” she says.” There’s always the question, ‘Are we going to be able to help everyone?’ And that’s why events and activities like this are really important.”

Growing demand has brought growing support, as an estimated 700 grocery bags filled every corner of the bus on Saturday.

One of those people passing along a bag was Vonda Elliot. She says, as prices soar for just about everything, she is just fortunate to be able to give.

“I just went through the list and crossed off until the bag was probably too heavy,” she explains “Just do what you can.”

Maxwell says the donations will go a long way at an unprecedented time.

As the need continues, Maxwell says people can donate online.

“(It will) just enable us to help as many people as we can,” she says.

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