Social media, economy boost donations for “Stuff the Bus” toy drive

The “Stuff the Bus” toy drive championed by our client, Valley Regional Transit, the Salvation Army, Fred Meyer, and KTVB-TV Channel 7 broke all records this year with 8,607 toys donated on Saturday, Dec. 5, by many generous Treasure Valley residents.

That means families in need received two brand new toys per child, in addition to food and clothes, from the Salvation Army. All told, that’s two very cool toys for more than 4,300 kids in the Treasure Valley.

Joanne’s girls, Jessie and Olivia, donate toys.
[youtube=]The concept was for people to stop by Fred Meyer store locations in Nampa, Meridian and Boise, go shopping for families in need, and stuff the bus with toys! All in one day. My partner Wendy Wilson and I filled a shopping cart at the Fred Meyer store on Federal Way and donated a bunch of fun stuff for teen-age girls and boys.

My associate Joanne Taylor took her girls shopping at the Fred Meyer store in Garden City and showed them what community giving is all about.

There could be several reasons why the event did so well this year — the 13th year of the event.

  • With unemployment running at 10 percent in the Treasure Valley and homeless shelters packed full, it was abundantly clear that donations were sorely needed.
  • From a promotions perspective, Drake Cooper and VRT touted the event on twitter and Facebook well in advance of Dec. 5. Drake Cooper set up a Facebook event page with some photos and videos from last year’s event, and we sent out multiple reminders on twitter and Facebook, trying to keep the event in the top-of-mind for Treasure Valley residents.
  • KTVB-TV Channel 7 shot a funny video several days in advance of Dec. 5. Their anchors and support crews raced around a Fred Meyer store, filling their carts with toys as fast as possible. This year, anchor Mark Johnson won again, but he had a ton of help from some fleet-footed kids.
  • VRT did a press release, several stations ran live-read radio announcements and there was at least one radio interview.
  • Fred Meyer and the Salvation Army also promoted the event through their own circles.

It was fun to work on the event, and it certainly helped to put me in the Christmas spirit early in December. Giving to others — especially in a year like this — is crucial. Even though I doubt that I’ll meet any of the families who received the gifts, I can imagine the look on a teen-age boy’s face when he received a new skateboard and a fancy red helmet or a table-top foosball set.

Despite all of the tough times that families in need are going through, at least their children had a special moment to smile and be happy.

Thank you Treasure Valley!

– SS

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