Generous Community Stuffs Two C-U MTD Buses for "Stuff the Bus"

 Champaign County residents know how to take care of their neighbors. “Stuff the Bus”, the Campaign Kickoff event for United Way of Champaign County, collected over 100,000 items for 37 agencies in Champaign County. “This number is a true testament to the character of our community,” said Tony Clements, Interim CEO. “This is our third year doing “Stuff the Bus” and each year we are continually amazed by the generosity of our neighbors. We may not have collected as many items as in the past, however, the items that are in the most demand increased and we added more expensive items to the wish list like flash drives, calculators and copy paper. We are waiting to hear the results from collections in Rantoul and Mahomet.”

Wish list items centered on United Way’s four Community Goals: Education, Health & Well-Being, Financial Stability and Community Basics. Donors could choose from a list of 23 much-needed items requested by United Way’s partner agencies, including toilet paper, soap, diapers, children’s books, crayons, underwear and more.
United Way staff and volunteers were particularly moved by the generosity of donors. “The 2012 Campaign theme is ‘Inspiring the Next Generation’. One grandfather brought his grandson with him to donate over 15 packages of toilet paper,” said Pam Hulten, Director of Resource Development. Campaign Co-Chair Jennifer Vallowe reinforced the importance of teaching children how to give back. “It’s never too early to teach children the importance of helping others. It was great to see so many parents and grandparents leading by example.”

The C-U MTD Bus stopped at four locations for Community Collection drives: WDWS-WHMS-WUIL, Christie Clinic, WCIA 3 News, and Jupiter’s at the Crossing. The community collections were extremely successful. “The community collections are so much fun. We get to personally thank everyone who drives up and donates. Every donation helps,” said Donna Greene, Campaign Co-Chair.
“It takes a small army of volunteers to make this event happen,” said Sue Grey, Vice President of Community Impact. “We had nearly 75 volunteers who helped load, sort and unload items. The event would not be possible without them,” she said. United Way’s Emerging Community Leaders sent 15 volunteers to unload at the end of the day. Twenty Cadets from Lincoln’s Challenge volunteered to help unload and sort the items as well.
Over 75 workplaces collected items to help “Stuff the Bus”. Some highlights included:
·         Worden-Martin filled four giant collection boxes, and the Mayor of Ford City helped load!
·         Human Kinetics collected over 450 pounds of soap and personal care products
·         Meyer Capel, A Professional Corporation, matched employee donations item-for-item
·         Numerous United Way agencies collected items, including Community Elements, Family Service, Prairie Center, ECIRMAC and Frances Nelson Health Center.
Eight workplaces officially “adopted” an item. Estimated results of these adoptions:

· – Crayons (Over 100 packages)
·         Carle Foundation Hospital – 42,000 diapers
·         Provena Covenant Medical Center –200 pounds of soap
·         Busey Bank – Nearly 300 toothbrushes/toothpaste
·         United Way Board of Directors – almost 1,000 bus tokens
·         The News-Gazette – 200 reams of copy paper, or 100,000 sheets
·         Rogards Office Plus – 230 reams of copy paper, or 115,000 sheets
·         University of Illinois Research Park – 350 flash drives
Distribution to United Way agencies began at 1:00pm yesterday and a majority of the items were distributed. Marcius Moore with Mahomet Area Youth Club said, “We would like to thank the community and United Way for their generosity. The paper towels, toilet paper and school supplies are a huge help. When we get donations, that’s money we don’t have to spend out of our budget.”
“Developmental Services Center is greatly appreciative of the generosity of our community for the donations we received today as a result of Stuff the Bus.  The United Way so accurately assesses the needs of its partner agencies and their commitment to supporting us in fulfilling our missions is greatly appreciated,” remarked Janice McAteer, Director of Development at DSC.
Stuff the Bus marked the official beginning of United Way’s 2012 campaign. At their August meeting, United Way’s board of Directors set the campaign goal at $3.3 million.