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Cold Night Doesn't Stop Annual Service Project

Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013

Stuff-a-Bus activity and the bus

USU students gather outside an Aggie Shuttle as it loads passengers to gather food donations for the Val R. Christensen Service Center's annual Stuff-a-Bus campaign. (photo from the USU Statesman)

The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman or the Hard News Café or both for inclusion in Utah State Today.

Cold Night Doesn't Stop Annual Service Project

By Connor Comeau, staff writer, The Utah Statesman, Thursday, November 7, 2013

One hundred students braved the cold Logan air Monday night [Nov. 4, 2013] to help with an annual service project put on by the Val R. Christensen Service Center called Stuff-a-Bus. The Stuff-a-Bus program goes to different locations in the valley to ask for donations such as money, food and toiletries to help benefit the Cache Valley Food Pantry.

Since 2006, the Stuff-a-Bus program has donated 96,701 pounds worth of food items and more than $36,000 in donations alone. Chloe Raphael, service center historian, said this program comes at a big time for the food pantry especially since the holidays are right around the corner.

The program, which started in 1996, is the largest food drive in the Cache Valley.

“Since we are so close to the holidays, we ask for as many donations as we can,” Raphael said. “Thankfully, the people here in the valley are very generous and are very willing to help in any way.”

The Stuff-a-Bus program will run through November with two separate parts to the program.

The first part is called Blitz Nights. On Blitz Nights, such as Monday, a big group of students, ranging anywhere from 100 to as many as 400 students, get on buses and go to different parts of the valley to collect food. The second part, called Store Nights, involve the leadership of the service center going to local stores and asking for donations.

The program is part of the Aggies Giving Service campaign, an event running through Dec. 13. The purpose of Aggies Giving Service is to help promote service activities throughout the valley and to help members log their service hours for the center. Caleb Carroll, the director of Aggie Health, said there are always open spots for people to help serve.

“Our center, Aggie Health, focuses on health related service projects,” Carroll said. “This and the Stuff-a-Bus program help to show that there are activities for every interest.”

Student turnout has been on the increase for the past few years, and this has led to an increased interest for students to help out, said Kevin Meacham, USU/SA service vice president.

“Even though this was the first night that we did this, I felt that we had a very good turnout,” Meacham said. “It is usually during the middle of the month that we get our biggest numbers of students.”

Meacham said last year brought a total of 7,000 people combined to help with the efforts of the Stuff-a-Bus program, which has led to an increase in the amount of food and money donations the food pantry has received.

Getting donations can be hard, but Raphael said she wants students to go out, have fun and get to know one another.

“Going door to door and getting donations is kind of like a giant scavenger hunt,” Raphael said. “You don’t know what you’re going to get and you have to navigate neighborhoods you’ve never been in before. I think that what makes this worthwhile.”

Student feedback for the program has been overwhelmingly positive and everyone involved with the program has given great feedback, Meacham said.

“I have been told by some students that it is a little nervous at the beginning, but overall had a fantastic experience,” Meacham said. “The program wouldn’t be where it is at without the help of the students and the residents of Cache Valley.”

The program is one of many put on by the service center. In addition to Stuff-a-Bus, the center has 17 different programs students can get involved with, such as Friends of the Elderly and PALS. Any student can volunteer with a program, and Raphael said she encourages everyone to come and help out.

We are always looking for people to help with service,” Raphael said. “Doing service activities can be a very fun and rewarding experience.”

The Blitz Nights will continue each Monday throughout November. For more information on ways to get involved, visit the service center on the third floor of the Taggart Student Center.

Twitter: @Connor_Comeau

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