WHS cheer, football teams ‘Stuff the Bus’ for food pantry

On an unusually chilly September night under the lights on Sept. 19 at Fujitani Field, fans packed Memorial Stadium to watch the Wilton High School varsity football team play hard, cheerleaders fly through the air and the marching band delight the crowd.

But hundreds of Wilton High School students, Wilton Youth Football players and cheerleaders, and Wilton families came not only to support their athletes on the field, but also their friends and fellow Wiltonians who might be struggling a bit to make ends meet.

On Friday night, the Wilton community came together to Stuff the Bus at this annual event organized by the Wilton High School varsity cheerleading and football teams. As fans arrived to the stadium, they stopped first at the entrance and climbed aboard the bright yellow school bus decorated in Warrior blue and white, and filled the seats and aisles with hundreds of bags of much-needed food items and paper goods. The teams had worked hard to publicize the event in the weeks before the game, so fans knew to bring the items with them, and hundreds heeded the call.

After the game, bus driver Olga Vargas, whose bus and time was also donated to the event by the bus company, Student Transportation of America, cheerfully drove around the corner to the Wilton Food Pantry, maintained by Wilton Social Services at Comstock Community Center, where she pitched in to help members of the Wilton freshman football team, cheerleaders and parent volunteers unload the bus and stock the shelves.

Lauren Hughes of the Wilton Department of Social Services said that Stuff the Bus is an important annual event, noting that at this time of year it is especially helpful since the pantry shelves are often empty after the summer.

The Wilton Food Pantry provides assistance at this time to 184 Wilton residents in 57 Wilton families, comprised of 32 seniors over the age of 60, 97 other adults and 55 kids.

“Everyone at Social Services is so grateful for all of the donations. We are particularly pleased to see so many young people in Wilton becoming aware that they have less fortunate neighbors, and participating in this direct way to help them,” Hughes said. “We would like to thank all of the Wilton High School cheerleaders, football players and their families who organized and publicized the event, collected the donations, and in particular, those who stayed after the game and did such a conscientious job unloading and stocking the pantry shelves.”