The Recorder – Travel Kuz brings back the Busloads of Blessings donation drive | Tech US News

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Published: 08/11/2022 17:35:41

Modified: 8/11/2022 17:35:14

GILL – You don’t want to miss this bus.

Travel Kuz, a fifth-generation bus company based on Main Road, resurrected the Busloads of Blessings holiday event in partnership with United Way of the Franklin and Hampshire Region and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County. With the help of local school districts, this event will collect food, toys, diapers and clothing until December 17th to fill a yellow school bus and distribute the items to area families in need.

Pam Reipold, CEO of Travel Kuz, said her company first organized an event like this eight to 10 years ago.

“It was super successful. We were able to fill a bus. It was great,” Reipold recalled, adding that it didn’t seem appropriate to bring back the event during the height of a global pandemic. “Now seemed like a good time. And there are a lot of families out there that could use a little help.”

This year’s event started on November 1st. There will be a focus each week on different items to meet various needs within the community. Diapers are the focus until November 12th. Focus shifts to canned foods, protein and nut butter Nov. 13-19, gift donations for Adopt-A-Family of Franklin County Nov. 20-26, dry foods Nov. 20-26. December 27-3, diapers (specifically plus sizes and Pull-Ups) December 4-10 and coats and hats December 11-17. The bus was decorated by Abbot Bresciano, program supervisor at Franklin County Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Travel Kuz, United Way and Big Brothers Big Sisters will be reaching out to community leaders and organizations to solicit support and donations. This includes lodging food, clothing or diaper packages; sponsoring local sporting and community events; or hire volunteers to help with collection and delivery. At the end of each week, the bus will collect goods throughout the community and prepare to distribute them to families in need.

Geoff Naunheim, executive director of United Way of the Franklin and Hampshire region, said Busloads of Blessings started organically when Reipold pitched him the idea after running into him at a Franklin County Chamber of Commerce event. United Way raises money for dozens of partners in a local network of social service agencies, then awards grants to organizations that are best positioned to serve the community’s greatest needs.

“I told him that sounded great,” Naunheim said, adding that he valued items of special value to the United Way, though he felt organizers “didn’t need to reinvent the wheel.” Naunheim noted that the United Way Diaper Bank is especially in need of sizes 4, 5 and 6.

“Diapers are absolutely a necessity that is not seen in this region,” he said.

Warm clothing and waterproof gloves and boots are also valuable, Naunheim said.

Jennifer Webster, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, said she hopes the families of at least 50 “Littles” can benefit from items donated to Busloads of Blessings. The agency creates one-on-one mentoring relationships between volunteer adults (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”). Webster said her organization is partnered with United Way, and items sent to Big Brothers Big Sisters will be added to the agency’s expanding collection created for families. Supplies will be distributed in December.

“We have a very strong partnership with (Travel Kuz), so Pam reached out to us about this,” explained Webster. “It was very exciting because we have about 400 young people who need help this holiday season.”

For more information or to contribute to this year’s Busloads for Blessings event, contact Sue Rosewarne at [email protected].

Contact Domenic Poli at: [email protected] or 413-930-4120.

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