DANSVILLE — The Fill-the-Bus program has helped those in need for five years now.
This is a community-wide effort that got its start at the Dansville Central Bus Garage with Transportation Supervisor Mike Mistretta.
“We started this about five years ago. The drivers see the ones in need everyday. No one gets in those areas more than us,” he said. “We started this as a way to help out those in need. C.A.N.N. helps get the toys out to the kids, and brings the food to the food pantry.”
Mistretta said that the community has been very generous with the Fill-the-Bus every year. In fact it keeps growing and growing. They have come really close to filling the bus.
There was that special Fill-the-Bus for the children in Houston, Tx. who suffered the hurricane. It was a huge success, which adds to the generous hearts of the community.
“I have my mechanic take the bus to the different locations, and we have volunteers who decorate it every year,” Mistretta said. “We are going to have it at Save-A-Lot and Dollar General this year. I am hoping someone will buy a toy, and put it on the bus. I am hoping someone will buy an extra can of food or box of noodles and put it on the bus.”
The toys can be gently used or brand new for any age group. The food if the weather is cold will be stored in the bus garage once they bring it back.
There is such a strong need in the community that everything put on the bus goes to make someone’s holiday nicer.
The stops this year are the following; Nov. 2 to 9 at the Dansville Clock, Nov. 9 to 16 at the plot next to CVS, Nov. 16 to 23 is Save-A-Lot, Nov. 23 to Dec. 3 is Dansville Collision, and the final stop is Dec. 3 to 7 at Dollar General.
There will also be drop off boxes inside Dansville Central.
“On Dec. 7 we will have a group of volunteers at the bus garage. We set it up like an assembly line to help take everything off the bus, and give it to C.A.N.N,” Mistretta said. “All of this goes through Claire at C.A.N.N. and she knows where the need is. This is really great for the community.”
Mistretta said that Claire Van Durme is always out hitting the stores for donations to C.A.N.N. and Fill-the-Bus.
There has to be permission to have the bus at their property, and boxes set up in the stores.
Fill-the-Bus has been the same bus all five years, because it is the one bus that only has a couple seats in it.
Susan DeMuth, coordinator of Winter in the Village, has always loved the idea of Fill-the-Bus being there on the big event.
“There are lots of different families in the community that need something like this,” she said. “I like that they move it around to different locations, and this allows people to have good access to the bus.”
Dogwood Trading Company will also be a drop off place for Fill-the-Bus the whole month of November. This will be a easier way to get the gifts to the children, and not have to worry about leaving them on the bus.
“It is hard for some of the older folks to climb up into the bus, so I have offered to have a drop off here at my store for them,” she said. “I can take them to the bus myself, or bring them to Claire.”
It is also important to check the dates on the food items before placing them on the bus. The toys need to be unwrapped and placed gently on the bus. Claire Van Durme can divide it up, and she always gets it out to the ones in need on time.
“This really has become an entire community effort,” DeMuth said. “This is why I love Dansville, because we all put a lot of work into helping others.”