BRADENTON -- Stuff the bus! Stuff the bus!
That will be the rallying cry Saturday and Sunday as Manatee County School District buses will be parked at every Publix in Manatee and customers can purchase food to donate.
Food will be sorted, boxed and loaded into the buses by volunteers coordinated by the United Way of Manatee County. The buses will be weighed at Tropicana scales and unpacked at the Food Bank of Manatee County.
The campaign runs from 9 a.m. until dark Saturday and 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Sunday.
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Last year, more than 130,000 pounds were gathered and this year's goal is 150,000 pounds.
United Way President Philip Brown is confident that goal will be reached.
"Fortunately, we live in a community that cares for one another," he said. "This initiative is a perfect example of how reaching out a hand to one can influence the condition of all. From the collaborated efforts of all of our partners and sponsors, to the folks donating their hard-earned money by buying food, to the dedicated volunteers who give their time to see this project through, we are able to make a huge impact in the fight against hunger."
More than 1,500 homeless children are in the Manatee school district, plus at least 1,000 more who are either not reported or are not school-age.
"Stuff the Bus does more than meet the needs of many children and families in our community," said Manatee Schools Superintendent Rick Mills. "It provides a visible example of what good people can accomplish when they work together for a worthy cause."
The collaborative initiative brings together community partners including Tropicana, 106.5 CTQ, 92.1 The Coast and Ring Power, as well as United Way, Manatee school district and Publix. Volunteers are needed to help at Publix stores. Contact Doreen Ravagnani at 941-748-1313 or email DRavagnani@uwmc.net.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: