By Wyoma Groenenberg – Wyoming Business Report
CASPER – Donned in a Santa hat, Donovan Short is in his 14th year of heading efforts to Stuff The Van — spending six days before Christmas from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. no matter the weather – outside Casper retail stores so shoppers can share their generosity.
Stuff The Van was started so that “no child in Casper should go without a simple toy or warm clothes at Christmas. Every year, we meet people who personally benefitted from [the public's] generosity, are back on their feet, and stop by and give what they’re able in order to pay it forward,” Short said.
This year, Short is at Casper’s Walmart stores. Today through Saturday, he’s at the east side store, having been on the west side from Dec. 12-14. Short, Wyoming regional operations manager for Townsquare Media, lines up three of the company’s vans in front of the store and next to the Santa Toy Shop where donations are housed for the day.
Donations for this year’s drive – new and unwrapped toys, clothing and items for teen — will be distributed to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming, the Salvation Army and the Natrona County Child Development Center. Cash and checks will purchase needed items that aren’t donated; any leftover funds will go to the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies’ (WFBR) Totes of Hope program.
Totes of Hope provides food to Casper children that often struggle to get a meal outside of the free breakfast/lunch programs at school. Other communities around Wyoming also participate in the program.
This year, WFBR has organized volunteers to be at the site to help collect items and to be at its warehouse to sort donations and prepare them for giving, according to what the partner agencies have requested. Yesterday, Wyoming Business Report’s Casper office crew, Mandy George and Wyoma Groenenberg were on hand to help.
“We do need quite a few volunteers, because it’s 12 hours a day,” said Jamie Purcell, WFBR development manager. “We need volunteers to be at the site where we gather the toys and then we also need volunteers at our warehouse to sort toys by age and gender.”
Short wrote in a story on The Santa Station website, “In years past, we’ve always found that donations for older kids pace a little slower than stuff for the younger ones – so please keep our tweens and teens in mind if you’re shopping.
“Listen in for hourly updates throughout the drive, as we’ll be talking more about the specific needs as we take daily inventory of where we’re at and get updated lists of needed items from our participating charities,” he said.
If you’re interested in volunteering for Stuff The Van, call Renea at Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies at 265 2172.