Stuffing the bus so others can eat

September 12, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — There was a school bus parked in front of Al’s Supermarket on Franklin Street on Saturday, but instead of being filled with students, it was being loaded with groceries.

“All this food will go to the food pantry, then straight to people in need starting Tuesday,” according to Major Becky Simmons of the Michigan City Salvation Army.

The annual Stuff-A-Bus Food Drive, which had a second bus at the Al’s in Karwick Plaza, is a joint effort between the Salvation Army, Michigan City Area Schools, Al’s and First Trust Credit Union.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time, Simmons said.

“We’re very low on food right now. During the summer we get fewer donations and more demand with the kids out of school,” she said. “People are busy or on vacation and they don’t have time to donate.

“We’re empty. This is the time of year when we’re hit hard, and the demand will stay up until winter comes. So I’m glad that in a few days these buses will fill up the shelves. We’ll be packed and overflowing.”

But not for long, according to Dorene Martinson, marketing director for First Trust Credit Union.

“It’s amazing that all this food will be gone by the end of November. It shows the need is so immense.”

This was the 15th year for the food drive, and FTC has been involved from the start, Martinson said.

“We were in it from the beginning, when it started with WEFM and one of our former board members, the late Arnie Bass. FTC coordinates and organizes the event; MCAS provides the buses; and Al’s provides the location.”

The supermarket also offer pre-packaged bags of groceries that shoppers can buy for $5, along with $5 meat vouchers. Shoppers can also buy items off a needs list individually.

“Whatever they want to donate or can afford to donate,” Martinson said.

Simmons said the turnout this year was “really good” on Franklin Street, and the Karwick location was doing “really well also.”

“It’s such a neat experience to see the entire community come together to provide food for the 300 families the Salvation Army serves,” said Martinson, who had her husband and daughter at the store with her helping pack the bags onto the bus.

“Part of the mission of FTC, and any credit union, is to serve and give back to the community, and the Salvation Army is our biggest partner. It’s people helping people, and that is our motto.”

Anyone wishing to donate can visit the Salvation Army website at centralusa.salvationarmy.org/MichiganCity/.

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