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Community stuffs buses in food drive

By Richard Yeakley
Dec. 19, 2013 at 11 p.m.

A communitywide food drive landed four Longview nonprofit organizations with nonperishable goods for the holiday season.

Sponsored and organized by Longview Transit, the city's first Stuff-A-Bus campaign was a rousing success, said Damiya Pentecost, the bus services mobility manager.

"We had two very full buses, and all in all together ... I think it is a success. It is a definite success," Pentecost said. " I am really impressed and grateful for the community that came out and supported this event. I couldn't have asked for a better first event."

She added people gave in a variety of ways, either through a monetary donation or through grab bags prepared at the different retailers.

The charity drive, which drew together Longview Transit and Longview, Pine Tree and Spring Hill ISDs, collected nonperishable food, dog food and other much-needed items for Longview Community Ministries, Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, and Newgate Mission.

"With this being a holiday season, there are so many different organizations and places that are doing so much within the community," Pentecost said. "We also realize that they need help throughout the year for food as well."

Pentecost said connecting with the school districts made the event a community effort.

"I think it is absolutely awesome. We work together with Newgate and Hiway 80 Rescue Mission on a daily basis. It is awesome that they have come together and are doing this," said Donna Sharp, the executive director of Longview Community Ministries.

"And the schools to partner too. We have a lot of interest from the schools to help the community ... I think it is a great effort by Longview Transit. They are doing an outstanding job to target the major groups that provide for the needs of different populations."

The Rev. Jennene Laurinec, executive director of Newgate Mission, said the drive was meaningful but the East Texas community always has been generous when meeting the needs of nonprofit organizations.

Brookshire Grocery Co. owned two of the stores being used as collection points for the Stuff-A-Bus drive.

"We are glad to partner with Longview Transit in the Stuff-A-Bus promotion. The agencies that benefit are working to help individuals and families who may not have enough to eat during the holidays as well as throughout the year," said Rebecca Sanders, director of public relations at Brookshire Grocery Co.

Sherry Vaught of Longview drove about five plastic bags of nonperishable cans of food to the Longview ISD bus parked at the intersection of Alpine Road and Marshall Avenue in the Super 1 Foods parking lot.

Vaught said she did not often donate to charities.

"I heard about it on the radio. A lot of people have helped me, and I am grateful. This is my opportunity to give back," Vaught said.

The three Longview school districts joined in the event using it as another holiday opportunity to reach out to Longview residents.

"Longview Transit had notified us of the Stuff-A-Bus campaign, and we wanted to continue supporting the community and those needs," said Wes Jones, superintendent of Spring Hill ISD. The district's bus was loaded with goods at Brookshire's of Longview at 3354 Gilmer Road.

Jones said student groups and campuses had done food drives, but the Stuff-A-Bus campaign provided one more opportunity.

"This time of year people can use it and benefit from it, so we just joined in," Jones said.

Donna Jones, the community relations coordinator of Pine Tree ISD, said there was never a question the district would pitch in.

The district's bus was anchored at Super One Foods at 2301 W. Loop 281.



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