GENOA – The term “food drive” took on a double meaning during the second annual Pack the Bus event organized by the Genoa-Kingston School District 424 Transportation Department.
“The Transportation Department does so much for the students and community of Genoa, so this is our way of supporting them,” said Barb Benzinger, a Genoa resident and kindergarten teacher at Davenport Elementary School, who braved the snowy weather Saturday morning to drop off food items at the school bus parked on downtown Main Street.
At three sites across Genoa on Saturday morning, school district drivers collected a busload of nonperishable food and personal hygiene items and several hundred dollars in cash.
They will deliver it Wednesday to the Genoa-Kingston food pantry.
The food drive was started last year as a show of gratitude by the Genoa-Kingston School District Transportation Department, which includes 17 bus drivers.
“They were looking at outsourcing transportation and the community backed us up, so this was our way of giving back to the community by collecting food,” said Amber Walitzer, one of the bus drivers who helped organize the food drive.
Leaders with the Genoa-Kingston Food Pantry were very appreciative, emphasizing that the transportation department members took the initiative with the drive.
“November and December are our biggest months,” Carol Cleveland said. “We served 116 families last month and about the same this month.”
Dan Duval, who has driven a school bus for the district for the past 44 years, helped Saturday at the bus drop-off point on Main Street.
“They couldn’t believe how much we got last year,” Duval said. “They were overwhelmed.”
Judy Thompson, one of the directors of the food pantry, wanted to express her gratitude for the community support.
“Our community is just wonderful about helping those in need,” she said.
For those who missed the food drive Saturday and would like to donate, items still can be dropped off at Faith United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Or they can call Judy Thompson at 815-784-5989 or the church at 815-784-5143 to schedule a drop-off. There also are collection sites at Piggly Wiggly and Pete’s gas station in Genoa.