GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid) and Feeding America West Michigan (FAWM) Food Bank launched a first-ever food collection campaign today called “Stuff the Bus” that asks Grand Rapids-area residents to donate canned goods and other non-perishable food items to help feed the hungry.
As part of the campaign to spur donations, the Rapid and FAWM are sponsoring two free showings of the classic holiday film “The Polar Express” on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy Street SE in Grand Rapids.
The afternoon matinee has already sold out in two hours last week through a social media promotion. Free tickets for the 10 a.m. showing while supplies last are available at Eventbrite.com, and search for The Polar Express in Grand Rapids.
Attendees of the movies are encouraged to bring food contributions to the Wealthy Theatre, where The Rapid will accept donations beginning at 9 a.m. to help “Stuff the Bus” in front on the venue and have their photos taken on the bus. Cash donations also will be accepted and logged with receipts available upon request.
Even for those not interested in attending the film, donors can still participate in the “Stuff the Bus” campaign by dropping off their non-perishable food gifts before Dec. 1 at participating partner locations (see list below), which The Rapid and FAWM staff will collect.
“Our goal is to bring Kent County families together and make giving a fun activity to help our community’s most vulnerable citizens going into the holiday season,” said Michael Bulthuis, The Rapid’s Marketing and Communication Manager.
“Filling The Rapid’s bus will help hundreds of Greater Grand Rapids families who are struggling with hunger this winter season,” Bulthuis said. “Public support for this campaign has already been incredible through social media activity, but that bus is big and we really hope the Greater Grand Rapids community will help us meet our goal.”
Feeding America West Michigan, The Rapid’s campaign partner, is a nonprofit organization devoted to fighting hunger. Every year, Feeding America West Michigan helps nearly half a million hungry Michigan residents, with 28.9 million pounds of food – the equivalent of about 24 million meals – delivered in 2016 alone.
“We exist to ensure safe food is available to every hungry person in our community,” said Ken Estelle, President and CEO at Feeding America West Michigan. “You usually can’t tell by looking at someone that they’re hungry. It affects about 1 in 8 people from all backgrounds in all communities. For kids, that number is about 1 in 5.”
Feeding America West Michigan reclaims surplus food from farmers, retailers and manufacturers, then distributes it to a network of more than 1,000 hunger-relief agencies across West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, including food pantries, soup kitchens, after-school programs and senior centers.
“We’re proud to partner with The Rapid on this important campaign to help Michigan families this holiday season,” Estelle said. “Many people deal with hunger issues all year long, so it’s always nice to get a little more awareness.”
“The Polar Express” is a groundbreaking 2004 animated film that was one of the first to use motion-capture technology. The film is based on the acclaimed children’s book of the same name, which was partially set in Grand Rapids. Collection starts today and runs through Friday, Dec. 1.
To make your donation to “Stuff the Bus,” go to one of these locations:
Grand Rapids Community Media Center
711 Bridge NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
1110 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
300 Ellsworth Ave SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
1130 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids MI, 49504