October 28th, 2020

Shoppers stuff buses for food banks


By Mabell, Dave on December 4, 2019.

Nicole Williams and her children Colby and Taya drop off their donation among the hampers on a Lethbridge Transit bus parked outside the northside Save-on-Foods Tuesday as part of the annual Stuff a Bus initiative benefitting the local food banks. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

-Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

Every month, Lethbridge consumers fill local supermarkets on “customer appreciation day.”

This month, the benefits weren’t just for the shoppers.

Customers at the city’s two Save-on-Foods locations helped fill Lethbridge Transit buses on Tuesday during the annual “Stuff a Bus” food hamper event. The Lethbridge Food Bank and Interfaith Food Bank will take the hampers to local families who might otherwise face a bleak Christmas.

Dozens of food bank volunteers took part in the long-running event, as part of the community’s attempt to assist Lethbridge-area families who have little to spare for Christmas extras.

For Debbie Leroux, who assists every Wednesday at one of the food banks, it was an opportunity to offer a little more help when it’s needed.

“This is one of their best fundraisers of the year,” she said, as a steady stream of shoppers flowed by the table where she was selling hampers to be donated – and thanking others for cash contributions.

Leroux and her husband were seated in a wind-whipped tent outside the supermarket’s Centre Village Mall location, just feet away from a specially decorated bus where other volunteers were accepting the hampers and packing them inside.

In previous years, she said, hampers ready for sale were lined up inside the store.

“Having it out here is much better,” she said, despite gusts from the west. “People see the bus here,” then have an opportunity to lend their support before they join the crowd inside.

During her weekly shifts, Leroux said she helps portion out the food bank’s donated and purchased food for each family’s hamper. This week, there will be plenty to go around.

For Save-on-Foods, said store manager Mark Shipton, the “Stuff a Bus” campaign is another way the Western Canadian company can help families across Alberta. Pretty well every store is involved, he noted, and the initiative has been running for close to 20 years.

“I’ve been here nine years, and it began long before then.”

Staff at the Lethbridge stores created 1,800 hampers, he said. Once that was done, Shipton added, many staff members bought one to donate as their own contribution.

“It’s a great cause,” he said.

Many non-profit groups set up tables in the store through the year. But it’s the food banks’ turn on what Shipton said is usually the busiest day of the year.

“We’re happy to do it,” he said. “Lethbridge has been a great community for us.”

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