Stuff the bus for Flint

Published 9:47 am Tuesday, February 2, 2016

BERRIEN SPRINGS — You can never do enough to help a neighbor in need.

That is the thought behind Berrien Regional Education Service Agency’s (Berrien RESA) and student transportation provider First Student, Inc.’s “Stuff the Bus for Flint” donation drive.

Together, the entities are asking community members across Berrien County to help collect 6,000 cases of bottled water to be loaded on to a school bus and be delivered to Flint, Michigan.

The collection drive began Monday, Feb. 1 and will end on Friday, Feb. 12.

Collected cases of water will be delivered by school bus to First Student, Inc.’s Flint location on Presidents’ Day.

There the cases of water will be palletized, wrapped and then transported to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan for appropriate distribution. First Student, Inc. is graciously donating their staff members’ time, the bus (and semi-truck) and fuel expenses to support the Flint community.

“I am so proud to partner with First Student, Inc.,” said Dr. Kevin M. Ivers, superintendent of Berrien RESA. “They have, without hesitation, donated a number of resources to help thousands of families in need.”

Ivers explained that Flint’s water crisis effects all of us and that the education community is very eager to show their support to help in any way that they can.

“We have seen great efforts made by area schools already,” said Ivers. “Hopefully through the Berrien RESA and First Student, Inc. collaboration, we will be able to add an additional 6,000 cases of water to what has already been collected for the Food Bank.”

Collection sites are located throughout Berrien County.

Sites include:

• First Student Transportation Center, 4333 E. Shawnee Road, Berrien Springs

Collection hours: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday

• Berrien RESA’s Administrative Center, 711 St. Joseph Ave.,

Berrien Springs

Collection hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

• Blossomland Learning Center, 711 St, Joseph Ave., Berrien Springs

Collection hours: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

• Lighthouse Education Center, 379 Glenlord Road, St. Joseph

Collection hours: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

Yolanda Suarez, First Student’s location manager in Berrien Springs, said families can also send water with students who are waiting to catch their First Student, Inc. bus or van.

“Everyone is invited to help us Stuff the Bus,” said Suarez. “For those students who attend Berrien RESA programs or who ride a First Student, Inc. bus or van to school in Benton Harbor and Niles, are also welcome to donate a case of water to the driver who will “stuff it on the bus” for them at our transportation center in Berrien Springs.”

According to Doug Meek, First Student’s area general manager, should donations exceed the 6,000 case goal, First Student, Inc. will donate a second bus to make the trip to Flint.

“That would be fantastic news,” said Meek. “I do expect the donations to be significant. I have already received a number of inquiries from our drivers and from the families we serve asking how they can get involved. Hopefully, through the Stuff a Bus for Flint drive, we can answer the call for clean water for hundreds of Flint residents.”