RIVERSIDE – The holiday season just got a little brighter for disadvantaged area youth. Thanks to the generosity of students, teachers, police officers and community members, two 40-feet Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) buses were stuffed to capacity last week with a spectrum of donations for teens in crisis.
The Nov. 8 “Stuff the Bus” event produced a record-number of donations of non-perishable food, linens, toiletries and other items to Operation SafeHouse, a non-profit group that helps at-risk and in-crisis youth.
“RTA is proud of its tradition of supporting families and strengthening communities,” said RTA Chairman of the Board Doug McAllister. “This was a great opportunity to help those who need it most.”
Founded by UCR alumnus Amy S. Harrison, Operation SafeHouse runs shelters in Thousand Palms and Riverside for the county’s homeless and runaway youth, providing them with intervention and outreach services and transitional living programs.
“The Stuff the Bus event helps our kids all year long with items they desperately need to make an already very disturbing, distressful life, at such as early age more bearable,” Harrison said. “It helps them to know that ‘yes they are good kids and someone cares.'”
Operation SafeHouse’s fundamental goal is keeping teens safe and giving them the tools they need to survive in a world that isn’t always ideal. The program deals with therapy, emergency housing, gender identity issues, and domestic violence intervention.
Last week’s Stuff the Bus event produced more than 10,000 donated items, ranging from brooms and brushes to dish soap and shaving cream. Other items included toothbrushes, razors, lotion, bed sheets and pillows. There was plenty of donated canned food and cereal as well. The donations will likely keep inventory shelves stocked for the duration of 2013.
Donations were collected at several locations, including UC Riverside, Riverside City Hall, the Riverside County Administration Building, Kaiser Permanente and Riverside Plaza.
In addition to RTA, other organizations participating in the event were Riverside Sheriff’s Departments from Palm Desert, Moreno Valley, Perris, Jurupa Valley, Norco, Southwest station, and Hemet and San Jacinto. The Moreno Valley department collected more than 6,000 items, which earned them bragging rights over the other departments.
Also participating were the City of Riverside’s Youth Advisory Council, the County of Riverside’s Youth Advisory Council, Kaiser Permanente, La Sierra University, Riverside City Hall, Riverside Plaza, University of California Riverside, Van Buren Self Storage and Vons.