Patti Pragnell, Red Deer Christmas Bureau volunteer, and Mitch Thomson, Red Deer Food Bank executive director, stand next to some of the toys and food donated through the Stuff A Bus fundraiser. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Patti Pragnell, Red Deer Christmas Bureau volunteer, and Mitch Thomson, Red Deer Food Bank executive director, stand next to some of the toys and food donated through the Stuff A Bus fundraiser. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Red Deer Food Bank, Christmas Bureau collect donations through Stuff A Bus

The Red Deer Food Bank and Red Deer Christmas Bureau have been stuffing a school bus full of donations once a year for the past two decades.

The 20th annual Stuff A Bus fundraiser was held at Parkland Mall in Red Deer from Thursday to Saturday. The event featured entertainment and collected donated food, toys and cash for the nonprofit organizations.

There were many donations throughout the three-day event, said Patti Pragnell, Red Deer Christmas Bureau volunteer.

“Red Deer is always really good at coming out and donating, especially when there’s a bigger need,” said Pragnell, who has worked with the Christmas Bureau for about 25 years and has served as the organization’s president in the past.

“So far we have 428 children we’re going to be helping, which is quite a bit higher than what it has been in past years at this time. There’s definitely a huge need right now.”

Mitch Thomson, Red Deer Food Bank executive director, said he’s amazed by the longevity of the Stuff A Bus fundraiser.

“For 20 years, we’ve been coming together to gather food and toys at this time of year,” said Thomson.

“For the food bank, it’s incredibly important. We’ve been raising alarms this year because of inflation and the food costs we’re seeing. Normally at this time of year, we’re stocking up for the season ahead and right now we’re just getting by.”

The food coming in right now is going out this month to people who need it, Thomson said.

“It’s been tough for a lot of people. Demand is well over 60 per cent higher than last year. By October this year, we’d served over 21,000 people emergency food hampers versus 13,000 last year. We’re seeing a lot of need,” said Thomson.

The community has been stepping up and showing support, he added.

“There are great people coming in and making donations, and corporate sponsors helping out. There’s light ahead and Red Deer has the ability,” said Thomson.

For more information on the Red Deer Food Bank, visit www.reddeerfoodbank.com. For more information on the Red Deer Christmas Bureau, visit www.reddeerchristmasbureau.com.

The two organizations, as well as the Women’s Outreach Centre and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, will be collecting donations during the Charity Checkstop along Taylor Drive between 43 Street and 32 Street from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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