TAUNTON – The organizers of Stuff the Bus are hoping people who head out to do a little holiday shopping this weekend grab an extra toy for a child who might otherwise go without.
They’ll also be holding a food drive to help make sure that hundreds of local families don’t come home to an empty table on Thanksgiving.
“Through my job I come across numerous families and children in need during the holidays,” said Taunton Police Officer John Munise, a Stuff the Bus organizer.
“If you’ve got a household with four or five kids, how are you going to put presents under the tree for all of them if you’re struggling to get by?”
Volunteers from the Greater Taunton Charitable Association, the Taunton Police Department and numerous other local organizations will be stationed at Trucchi’s supermarkets at 53 Tremont St. and 534 County St. on Saturday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to collect donations of food, money and gift cards.
Once the food arrives at the GTCA facility, volunteers will immediately prepare collected items for distribution to more than 600 families in time for Thanksgiving dinner, according to Cathy Lane of the GTCA.
Volunteers will also be on hand to collect donations of new, unwrapped toys at Toys “R” Us at the Swansea Mall on Friday, Nov. 17 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and at Walmart on Paramount Drive off Route 44 in Raynham on Friday, Dec. 1 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Anyone who can’t make one of those dates but would like to donate a toy may drop it off at Costa Insurance at 10 Taunton Green during the city’s annual Lighting of the Green festival Saturday Dec. 2 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. or during regular business hours, Munise said.
Munise said the donated toys will be distributed to families in low income housing areas as well as through the Coyle Cassidy toy drive and Operation Christmas.
A Christmas present is more than just a thing to own for a child whose family is struggling, Munise said.
It’s a vote of confidence.
“It tells the child they’re still cared about and there may be something different in their future, that their life might be more than what they see in front of them,” Munise said.
For the food drive, the following items are needed: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, canned vegetables, cranberry sauce, ham, onions, bread, dinner rolls, green beans, fried onions, butternut squash, canned pineapple, pies, cakes and cake mixes.
Lane said Stuff the Bus is made possible through the help and support of the Greater Taunton Charitable Association, the Taunton Police Department, Bloom Bus, Coyle Cassidy’s chapter of the National Honor Society, Taunton High School’s Air Force JROTC, Somerset-Berkley Regional High School, Girls Inc., local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops and Taunton Federal Credit Union.