Legion members collect donations for Stuff the Bus
The numbers are in from this year's Stuff the Bus Food Drive and after the final weigh in, the American Legion Post 41 managed to collect 552 pounds of nonperishable food items for the Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Bank.
In each of the past two years, members of Post 41 have rented a bus from the Tonganoxie School District and attempted to fill the seats that normally hold children with cans of vegetables, boxes of pasta and jars of spaghetti sauce.
"It's one of our favorite ways of showing thanks and giving something to the community," said Post 41 member Bill Ridihalgh.
About four members of the post stood outside B&J Country Mart and handed out fliers to shoppers going in asking for food or money donations.
"We know money's tight, but we appreciate what people can donate," Ridihalgh said.
Jim Rogers, post commander, said the Legion's goal was to stockpile food for the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
Last year, the post collected food later in the year for the Christmas season.
Members said they liked being able to give food for both holidays, but also liked the warmer weather.
"Spaghetti sauce doesn't do so well in the cold," Ridihalgh joked. "But at least it doesn't freeze. We found that out the hard way."
Although Rogers and Ridihalgh said there was more traffic through the grocery store this year, the total weight of the food was about half of last year's drive.
Rogers believes this difference was because there were fewer canned food items donated this year than last year.
"Last year Jim (Gambril, B&J Country Mart owner) had canned goods on sale." Rogers said. "This year he had cereals, Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper for sale. I would say dinner for dinner we got just as much."
In addition to the food, the post also raised $161.02 Saturday in cash donations that were given to the thrift shop.
Rogers said any donations were appreciated.
"When you're hungry, one can is more filling than no can at all," he said. "I hope we never have to be in that situation."
Besides the canned food drive, the post also gives away stuffed animals to children at area hospitals twice a year, and through this week, post members will be visiting Tonganoxie Elementary School and talking to students about what it means to be a veteran.