CHAMPAIGN — More than 50 collection boxes have already been rolled out for the United Way of Champaign County's annual Stuff the Bus campaign, and next week it will be up to a caring community to fill them up.
Stuff the Bus gives everybody a chance to pick up an extra item or two at the store and put them in collection boxes to help the agencies serving local people in need. The annual drive will be held this year from Aug. 23-29, with four major giving themes on this year's wish list, says Pam Hulten, director of resource development for the United Way.
Here are the themes and some example of items agencies can use:
— Education: Children's picture books, crayons, lined paper, Play Doh, safety scissors and washable markers.
— Health and well-being: antiperspirant/deodorant, baby wipes, Clorox wipes, diapers sizes 3 and up, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
— Financial stability: MTD bus tokens, calculators, copy paper, flash drives and rulers.
— Community basics: Kleenex, paper towels, socks, toilet paper and underwear.
All items collected will be shared among United Way's 37 partner agencies, helping them keep their limited resources for other needs, Hulten said.
Community support for Stuff the Bus in the past has been an "extraordinary," outpouring of generosity, she said.
Some area employers have taken on one item to collect as a critical community need, though other people can still donate those items in collection boxes, Hulten said.
The Carle Foundation and Carle Foundation Hospital are collecting diapers. The United Way Board of Directors is collecting bus tokens. The News-Gazette and Rogards Office Products are collecting copy paper. Busey Bank is collecting toothpaste and toothbrushes. Chambamamoms.com is collecting crayons and University of Illinois Research Park is collecting flash drives, according to the United Way.
Among drop-off locations from Aug. 23-29 are Busey Bank locations in Champaign County, Carle Physician Group locations, the Urbana City Building, Commerce Bank, County Market stores and Rogards Office Plus. Rantoul locations include Rantoul First Bank, Rantoul Busey Bank, Rantoul Public Library, the village office building, Rantoul Recreation Department, Credit Union One and Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County.
Mahomet locations include Mahomet IGA, Mahomet Public Library, Mahomet Busey Bank and Mahomet First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust.
Donors can also drive to any of the following sites that will have an MTD bus present on Aug. 29:
— WDWS/WHMS/WUIL, 2301 S. Neil St., C, 7-9 a.m.
— Christie Clinic downtown Champaign at Clark and Randolph streets, noon to 2 p.m.
— WCIA, back parking lot at Randolph Street, Champaign: 4-5:30 p.m.
— Jupiter's at the Crossing, 2511 Village Green Place, C: 5-7 p.m.