Fill-A-Bus looking for even fuller bus this year

From left: Santa Zach (Zach Holmes), Santa Claus and Santa Nathan (Nathan Holmes) were on hand outside the Morinville Sobeys to help collect donations for the 2010 Fill-A-Bus campaign. The bus will be back later this month. - file Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – The Morinville Community Bus makes many trips throughout the year: taking seniors shopping, taking children swimming or out for summer day trips, and transporting Town of Morinville staff on an excursion or two. But even when it is parked, it can be used for good purpose. Later this month, the Town of Morinville community Bus will be parked at two local grocery stores, giving residents an opportunity to give to those who are or will be in need.
Once again this year, the Town of Morinville will hold its annual Fill-A-Bus program, kicking off the Town’s annual Christmas festival in a giving way.

Last year the charitable community initiative collected 5,608 pounds of non-perishable food items and roughly $1,600 in donations. But this year the Town of Morinville is looking to make that tally greater.

“We’re trying to expand it a bit over last year,” said Town employee and Fill-A-Bus organizer Melodie Steele, noting Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division schools, Morinville Public Elementary School, and Morinville Christian Fellowship School have all been invited to participate this year. “There will be pickups at the schools in the morning on the Thursday (Nov. 24).” Steele said a call has also gone out to all area businesses to have food and monetary donations ready for the Thursday afternoon, during which time the bus will make the rounds to pick them up directly from businesses.

November 24 will be the day the bus parks at Sobeys and Chris and Tracie’s No Frills, there to receive donations directly from the community. The bus will start out parked at No Frills from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. and finish parked at Sobeys from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

“People that are shopping there that day can pick up items or bring items to the bus for donation to the food bank and the Knights of Columbus Christmas hampers,” Steele said. “We’re hoping to raise the bar and make it a bigger and better year. The food bank does have its own facility now, whereas last year they were sharing a facility with another group.”

With the additional shelf space, the Morinville Food Bank Society is able to carry more inventory to help more people. Recently the charitable group acquired freezers and are now able to accept frozen goods. Steele said frozen items would need to go direct to the food bank as the bus will not have any way to keep the goods frozen.

But with the increased space and ability to take a greater variety of goods comes an increase in costs. The Food Bank Society now pays rent and utilities in their new location. “Monetary donations are definitely welcomed and encouraged, particularly amongst the businesses or anyone who are wanting to contribute in that way to keep the food bank is able to help all residents that need that service,” Steele said.

The organizer is confident that Morinville, being a caring community, will once again step forward during the annual Christmas festival to help overflow the Town bus. It is a viewpoint shared by Morinville’s Family and Community Support Services Coordinator, Amy Dribnenky.

“The nice thing about Fill-A-Bus is it also promotes community development,” she said. “It’s not just about helping the families in need, although that’s a very important part. It’s about coming together as a community to support one another and to promote that sense of community, and that sense of brotherhood.”

Dribnenky had the opportunity to see that sense of community earlier this year when she and Councillor Lisa Holmes organized a drive in aid of Slave Lake evacuees. “It’s always interesting to see the way that communities react to other communities in need,” Dribnenky said. “The Slave Lake one was very impactful. We saw this tragedy happen a couple hours away from us, and the community rallied and pulled together.”

The FCSS coordinator is hoping Morinville residents will again unite to assist the Morinville Food Bank Society through the Fill-A-Bus program, realizing food is not a given for some Morinville families. “It’s something that is questionable on a day to day period,” she said. “It’s something people depend on and something we need to wrap around as a community.”
For more information on the Fill-A-Bus program, contact Melodie Steele at 780-939-7839.

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