Stuff the Bus …an Inspiring Day of Community Giving!

Submitted by Susan Stone

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This past Saturday was one of Pawling's shining moments! The Stuff The Bus event, presented by Pawling Rotary and their project partners, The Pawling Resource Center, Hannaford’;s, and the Pawling Central School District, to benefit the Food Pantry of the Pawling Resource Center, was an awesome success.

With the yellow school bus parked outside of Hannaford’s from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., our community of food shoppers bought and then gave the desperately needed supplies for the Pawling Resource Center’s Food Bank. Our community gave, and gave and gave. By the end of the day, the bus was totally stuffed, and the folks of Pawling proved once again that they are the most caring, generous, and good willed people that any little town could ever hope for!

In spite of the record heat, the volunteers from Rotary, which included Rotary President, Jeff Asher, Vice President, Ann Godesky and Secretary, Susan Stone, along with board members Carl Dill and Lori Johnson, and additional Rotary members Fayne Daniels, John Thomes, and Margo Jacob joined PRC’s Program Coordinator ,Terry Ariano, and volunteer Sue Smith, as they spent the day packing and sorting the many goods that were donated. Alex Badia from the Pawling Interact Club lent his strong arms and stuffing talent to the day along with Tom McFall, Manager at Hannaford’s, and his associates, who not only hosted this event, but contributed a whole lot of needed STUFF. Twice, the Hannaford’s crew paraded eight packed shopping carts out of Hannaford's front door, loaded with needed items. Mr. McFall acknowledged that the associates had personally contributed to fund this parade of produce, along with donations from members of the Hannaford Corporate family. It was an amazing sight and one which prompted a standing ovation both times from all the volunteers present.

Moreover, many community members who emerged from Hannaford’s without goods for the bus, generously contributed dollars to assist in purchasing things for the food pantry that were still needed. These donations added up to $369.00! Volunteer bus drivers, Tammy Fielding, Colleen Washburn, and Kevin Richard went above and beyond as they lent their enthusiasm and ability to, not only driving the school bus to and from Hannaford’s parking lot, but packing donated goods into it and out of it upon reaching its final destination at the Resource Center. Additional volunteers Betty Slocum, Roman Andruk, PRC Board Chair Jon Ellingworth, as well as Town Supervisor Dave Kelly, also assisted with the unpacking process.

In all, 300 bags of needed items were donated and unloaded into the Pawling Resource Center at 126 East Main Street. After the requisite weighing, the terrifically stuffed bus delivered 1,794 pounds of food, toiletries and cleaning supplies to the Resource Center Food Bank. Forty nine cases of paper products and sixty three cases of diapers and wipes were among the cache that was unloaded. Terry Ariano was joyous, as she emailed volunteers Monday morning exclaiming, “You should see the floor of the PRC!” Volunteers will be busy unpacking items and stocking shelves.

The response to this event by everyone, volunteers and community members alike, was a wonderful testament to the joy of giving back. Uncontrolled smiling could be seen on volunteer faces throughout the day, in spite of the sweltering heat. Parents took advantage of this truly teachable moment of giving by allowing their children to climb into the bus to personally deliver the goods that were bought moments before. It was a feel good day for everyone involved!

As the Pawling Resource Center plans for their annual Fall Walk-a -thon the morning of September 17th, which will raise money for their transportation services program, the volunteers , Board of Directors and Program Coordinator will also welcome the Pawling Community with an afternoon event at Lakeside park. It promises to be a day of celebration and thanksgiving, as the PRC marks its 40th year of service to the community. Stay tuned for upcoming information about the Pawling Resource Centers Walk So They May Ride, followed by The Big Thank You! See you there!!
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