BLOOMINGTON — The Children's Home & Aid Crisis Nursery had nearly 200 more admissions in fiscal year 2019 compared with the prior fiscal year.
That's what makes the 17th annual Stuff the Bus drive, which benefits children admitted to the Crisis Nursery, more relevant than ever.
The drive involves a Connect Transit bus parked outside three Bloomington-Normal stores, Monday through Saturday, to accept shoppers' donations of diapers, baby wipes, clothes, stuffed animals, blankets, infant formula, baby food and other items used by children, through age 6, admitted to the Crisis Nursery during the next year.
"What we're seeing in our community is a growing need for additional parent support," said Jeannie Higdon, Children's Home & Aid program manager of family support services.
The Crisis Nursery at Children's Home & Aid, 403 S. State St., Bloomington, provides a safe, temporary environment for children who are at risk for abuse or neglect because of domestic violence, homelessness, mental illness or other crises.
"As these numbers continue to grow, families look for additional levels of support," Higdon said.
When the Crisis Nursery is stocked with supplies, that gives families in crisis one less thing to worry about, said Tiffanny Powell, the agency's program director of family support services.
Donations will be accepted 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. by volunteers in a Connect Transit bus parked outside the following stores:
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- Walmart, 300 N. Greenbriar Drive, Normal, on Monday and Friday.
- Walmart, 2225 W. Market St., Bloomington, on Tuesday and Saturday.
- Kroger, 1550 E. College Ave., Normal, on Wednesday and Thursday.
Donations also will be accepted at Children's Home & Aid and Connect Transit offices, 351 Wylie Drive, Normal.
During the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Crisis Nursery had 2,482 admissions for 190 children, Higdon said. During the prior fiscal year, the Crisis Nursery had 2,287 admissions for 225 children.
The most recent fiscal year also included 111 post-crisis home visits and 65 parent support group meetings, Higdon said.
Last year, the community donated 6,148 children's items, just shy of the record-high 6,362 items received in 2016. The community also donated $6,026.21 in cash, gift cards and sponsorships.
"This event couldn't be successful without community volunteers," Higdon said. About 180 people from throughout the community volunteer on the bus or at store doors with lists of items that shoppers may buy and then donate.
People who wish to volunteer may sign up at www.childrenshomeandaid.org or call 309-827-0374.
Stuff the Bus is a partnership of Children's Home & Aid, Connect Transit, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 752, Paul Davis Restoration and Great Plains Media.
Contact Paul Swiech at 309-820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech.
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