Local charities will have better-stocked food pantries this winter thanks to the efforts of local students and the Camas-Washougal Business Alliance.
The fourth-annual Stuff the Bus, a friendly competition between Camas and Washougal high schools, brought in 61,600 pounds of food Friday.
It will be distributed to three local charities: The C.A.R.O.L. holiday food box program, Inter-faith Treasure House and Children’s Home Society. The business alliance sponsors the program.
High school leadership students spend time encouraging younger students to get involved in the effort. At Washougal High School Friday, “Santa” and the students traded high-fives and words of congratulations with children from Hathaway and Gause elementary schools when they stopped by to pick up Stuff the Bus donations.
“I love seeing the little kids and how excited they are,” said sophomore Brooke Croeni. “It’s a great way to help the community.”
Senior Maddie Down said she also enjoyed seeing the younger students’ excitement.
“This is so fun to be a part of,” she said. “All of it goes toward great causes in our community.”
It is sophomore Lexi Eckert’s first year participating.
“I love the spirit everyone has for it,” she said. “We get really excited and it is really cool.”
Teacher Jim Reed, who coordinates Stuff the Bus at WHS, said he enjoys seeing the community come together.
“It’s a great teamwork builder,” he said. “We had one teacher donate $100, and the counseling department donated $160. It’s really nice when the teachers set the example. They are a big part of Stuff the Bus.”
In Camas, students were fueled by hot cocoa and coffee from Starbucks as they filled the buses with food donations.
“I like helping out,” junior Tyler Hows said. “It’s also fun to stand outside and ask the community for money.”
It’s junior Maiah Sharma’s third year of participating in Stuff the Bus.
“I love helping out and going to the stores and seeing the little kids at the schools,” she said.
“The best part is, you know it’s going for a good cause.”
CHS leadership teacher Bronk Williams said Stuff the Bus has evolved into a big community event.
“I just think the overall feeling of generosity is great,” he said.
At the weigh-in party at Exterior Wood in Washougal Friday evening, CHS emerged the winner for the second year in a row.