For the past six years, the Manteca Unified bus drivers have helped bring the holiday spirit to those in need.
Through the efforts of their “Stuff the Bus”campaign, they’ve managed to collect thousands of nonperishable foods and brand-new toys along with hundreds of new and gently used coats.
“We’re all proud of ‘Stuff the Bus,’” said long-time driver Daveen Williams, who founded the program in 2008 as tribute to her best friend and coworker Teresa McNeilage.
McNeilage was an avid volunteer for various causes. She passed away in 2004 of ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig Disease.
Williams initially started a walking group – “Teresa’s True Believer” – to help raise money for ALS awareness. She got “Stuff the Bus” rolling a few years later to help needy youngsters in the area, with the event held on the first weekend in December.
This year’s “Stuff the Bus” is planned for Saturday in the Golden West School parking lot, 1031 N. Main St., from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
All donated items will benefit the community, according to Williams.
“As bus drivers, we’re already aware of the children who are need of coats,” she said.
The toys will go to the Raymus House and Hope Shelter. “We’ll also donate a portion to Toys for Tots,” she added.
The food collected is donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.
In addition, MUSD bus drivers have set up a drop-off box inside of Mountain Mike’s Pizza in Manteca at 1120 N. Main St. for those unable to attend “Stuff the Bus” but are looking to donate to the cause.
For more information, call Williams at (209) 603-2207.