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UWCK holds annual Stuff the Bus drive
Items collected help agencies supported by United Way
stuff the bus 2022
Jenny Strickland from the Great Bend Children’s Learning Center brought Paisley Adams, Daylynn McGurk and Kynlee Cell to the 10th Street Dillons store Wednesday afternoon to help with the United Way of Central Kansas’s 2022 Stuff the Bus campaign. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Taking the first afternoon shift at the 10th Street Dillons store for United Way of Central Kansas’s 2022 Stuff the Bus campaign Wednesday, Jenny Strickland “brought the troops” with her from the Great Bend Children’s Learning Center. 

Between being silly and striking poses, Paisley Adams, Daylynn McGurk and Kynlee Cell took their jobs seriously. They eagerly handed out lists of needed items and collected goods purchased by shoppers. 

“This event brings together all of UWCK’s 22 community partners to collect supplies to supplement the services these agencies provide throughout the year,” said UWCK Executive Director Charell Owings. 

Strickland and her crew were among many volunteers who stood outside  Walmart and Dillons in Great Bend, and Town & Country Supermarket and Dollar General in Hoisington throughout the day Wednesday. Shopping carts were fill and emptied into school buses provided through a partnership with USD 428 in Great Bend and USD 431 in Hoisington. 

Items requested are used to stock backpacks for students in need, items for the non-food pantry at Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas, toiletry supplies for the Family Crisis Center, pantry staples for the Hoisington Food Bank, as well as supplies for the individual agencies to use throughout the year to help keep expenses down, she said. School supplies donated will not only support local backpack programs, but will also be distributed to the school districts to have additional supplies on hand throughout the year.

Once completed and tabulated, Owings said they will announced the total of what the project collected.

“The generosity of our communities never ceases to amaze me,” Owings said. “The number of individuals and businesses who donate each year is humbling. The impact of this event is far-reaching, touching youth heading off to school, the elderly who don’t have the funds for hygiene supplies, and victims of violence who need a safe place to heal. These donations affect so many in our community and UWCK is proud to continue bringing this program to Barton County.” 

This event would not be possible without volunteers who lead the way, she said.

“Dianne Call has been the Stuff the Bus coordinator in Great Bend for years and makes it look so easy. Kay Wilbur is also a great asset who helps to organize everything once all the supplies are collected. Toni Schneweis and the entire group at the Hoisington Community Food Bank have taken this event and run with it as well. 

“These women see the impact of the program and are the reason why this is successful each year,” Owings said. 

They also rely on their community partners and community volunteers to help encourage donations at each of the locations. The partnership with the school districts is also integral, she said.

“The buses parked in front of the stores catch the eye and inspire people to donate.”

Although Stuff the Bus was a one-day event, Owings said items and monetary donations will be accepted at the UWCK office, 1125 Williams St. in Great Bend, through Wednesday, July 27.

For more information, follow United Way of Central Kansas on Facebook, visit the website or call 620-792-2403.