PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — It was looking a lot like Christmas in downtown Panama City on Saturday morning.
For the last 11 years, Stuff The Bus has provided Christmas to thousands of Bay County kids. This is the second year they have partnered with the Panama City farmers market to kick off their fundraising efforts a little earlier.
“This is kind of really our big kick-off to let everybody know there is only six months away until the biggest holiday of the year and there are going to be thousands of kids that need our help,” Stuff The Bus Founder Skip Bondur said.
Panama City Farmers Market Manager Bill Davenport said they weren’t sure what to expect when they started it last July.
“It was a great success. We got a lot of donations,” Davenport said. “The vendors did really well with their sales with people coming out to shop for Christmas so we knew we were on to something and we are hoping to grow it and make it bigger and better every year.”
All of the monetary donations Stuff The Bus received from Saturday’s event will go towards gifts for kids 12 and older, an age group Bondur said is often neglected.
Stuff The Bus collects more than $22,000 new unwrapped toys every year.
Once they fill the bus with toys they are dropped off with Toys For Tots in Bay County and then distributed out through several non-profits in the area.
“The crazy thing is the people who give to Stuff The Bus are giving to kids who they don’t even know,” Bondur said. “And so there is something about sharing joy, hope and love through a gift at Christmas that can truly change a child’s outlook and change their whole perspective and our hope is that we can stand in this gap for kids and help connect the generous people of Bay County with the kids that just need a little help this Christmas.
If you’d like to donate to Stuff The Bus visit their website.