Stuff the Bus volunteers (from left) Demaris Hendrix, Shelly Raikovich, Shari Pace and Teri Carlson are hopeful that this year’s food drive will be bigger than ever. Photo courtesy Laurie Brauneis

With another rainy day in Washington and the onset of winter, Peninsula school bus drivers are gearing up for their 6th annual “Stuff the Bus” food drive.

This will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Albertsons in Gig Harbor North.

“It’s always a lot of fun, we dress up shopping carts like buses to load donations at the doors of Albertsons, and park one of our buses in the parking lot to stuff the bus,” said Candy White, one of the organizers.

Last year, the group donated more than 2,000 items and around $600 in cash that was split between Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH food bank and Key Peninsula Food Bank says Sheri Pace, who is organizing this year’s event.

“We started 6 years ago with gratitude and hope. We were grateful to have jobs ourselves, and wanted to give hope to the families we serve,” said Jan Coen, president of Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH.

According to Coen, things have not really improved much since the drivers first started their food drive.

“We are seeing increasing need in our community and decreasing donations. I wonder if people think that with the slow recovery of the economy that things are not as dire as they really are here,” she said.

According to HUD income levels, 95 percent of families who use the Key Peninsula food bank fall into the extremely low to low income levels. These are not only families with children but also include elderly and disabled clients, said Brett Higgins, of the Key Peninsula Community Services Food Bank.

“Needed are basic non-perishable foods like canned meat, beans, vegetables, fruit and juices. Household items like laundry soap, dish soap, toothpaste and shampoo. Cash donations are appreciated so we can fill in the gaps when the canned donations run thin,” Higgins said.

The drivers will be on hand to take donations of food and cash from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For information, contact organizer Sheri Pace at 549-0517.

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