“Stuff the Bus” This Year to Make Christmas Merry

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – The “Stuff the Bus” event returns to Crockett this year looking to give needy children a happy Christmas with toys and warm pajamas for the holidays. 

The drive has been a part of Houston County holidays since 2016 with a pause during the COVID pandemic. 

The bus – donated by Crockett Independent School District – will be parked at the Walmart on Crockett Loop 304, Saturday, Dec. 9 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Organizer Kathi Calvert serves as the Christmas Store Coordinator for SHARE and appreciates the bus and the other organizations that have done so much to help make some small wishes into a big reality such as the Crockett Fire Department and the Piney Woods Lions amongst others. 

The SHARE program helps feed needy families with children under the age of 14 who are automatically registered and will be able to receive the gifts during the December food distribution. 

Gifts of toys, food and money can all be donated although Calvert says the drive does have some specific goals. 

“At Christmastime, we try to make sure every child up to the age of 14 has one new toy,” Calvert said. “We try to target it at around $25 per toy. We also want to give each child a new pair of warm pajamas and a new stocking stuffer.”

The “Stuff the Bus” event will help around 650 children this year, a little higher than usual as Calvert said they have seen a higher need. 

“The families go on their normal day to receive food if they are receiving assistance from SHARE,” Calvert explained. “Families with children under 14 are pre-screened in advance and when they come for their food they get an additional trip down to our ‘toy store’ managed by volunteers.”

Culvert said the experience is not like other where they toys are simply distributed, but where the participants become part of the process. 

“They get to participate in giving experience,” Calvert said. “They get to walk through and select what they think their child will want the most, like the most or something their child has asked for. They can ‘shop’ for the toys and select whatever character or figure their child might like. They can take it home, wrap it and give it to their children.”

Katie Bradshaw a Senior at Baylor University recently did a video interview with Calvert which can be seen on The Messenger YouTube page by clicking the link below.

Volunteers and donations of all kinds are always welcomed at Houston County SHARE, which is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9-11:30 a.m., along with a Pajama Drive on local radio. 

Calvert said the manner of distributing the help by allowing parents and kids to choose their own toys makes the process more fun and dignifying for all involved. 

That is one of the most powerful ministry aspects of SHARE is that it doesn’t do everything for those in need. They still take pride and ownership in what they’re selecting and they know their children and their family members better than we do,” Culvert concluded. “They get to go shop and they get to wrap the gifts and really participate in that.”

Houston County SHARE is located at 207 8th Street in Crockett and can be contacted at 936-544-5600. They rely on the generosity and Christmas spirit go Houston County residents as they work to “stuff the buss” for those less fortunate this holiday season. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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