For the seventh consecutive year, the Orange County Transportation Authority is teaming up with a local TV news station and generous community members to bring cheer and good fortune to those in need by stuffing buses to capacity with donated toys.
Held the week before Christmas, the annual Stuff-A-Bus toy drive collects toys that are distributed to children throughout Orange County through the Spark of Love effort.
“The generosity of the public is inspiring, even during this tough economy,” said OCTA CEO Will Kempton. “It is a tradition for many families to come and donate toys and it’s a rewarding experience to engage the community in such a wonderful cause.”
Hours before dawn, donors begin dropping off toys – some with a few and others with truckloads – and local ABC7 news is on-site to greet the public and broadcast live throughout the day.
The event, also sponsored by Honda Center and the Anaheim Ducks, draws hundreds of individuals and groups. There are young children who want to hop on the bus and drop off a single toy, a group of a dozen or more motorcycle riders that roll in with toys, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department equestrian team that parades through Honda Center parking lot with each rider carrying a sack of toys and even a local tribal casino that packed a bus of its own and then unloaded it to fill an OCTA bus.
“Seeing so many people come out to help kids who may otherwise not have a joyful holiday gives a whole new meaning to the season,” said Brian Reichert, a recently retired OCTA coach operator who played Santa Claus during the event. “It is something I looked forward to every year and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of it to bring so much cheer to those who need it.”
The amount of toys collected continues to grow each year. Last year, two 60-foot, 22-ton OCTA articulated buses and three 40-foot buses were filled with more than 15,000 toys. Hopes are high to beat that in 2010.
The Spark of Love is sponsored by firefighters from throughout Southern California and has been collecting and distributing toys for the past 16 years. Each year, ABC7 partners will local transit agencies to host similar events throughout the holiday season to collect toys for the program.
Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority
What says holiday cheer more than a decorated bus or a Holly Jolly trolley? Cincinnati Metro uses holiday opportunities to promote transit’s value to the community by offering a downtown circulator trolley, participating in charitable events, and allowing bus drivers to decorate buses to delight their customers.
The Trolley Tradition
Metro’s Holly Jolly Downtown Trolley showcases the seasonal magic of Cincinnati through the windows of an old-style trolley. The festive weekend circulator has provided free rides, courtesy of downtown business sponsors, for several years.
The trolley route connects many of Cincinnati’s holiday events and attractions including ice skating at Fountain Square, theaters, museums, the historic Duke Energy train display, and shopping on Fourth and Fifth streets – all lit up for the holidays. For many, riding on the Holly Jolly Downtown Trolley has become a downtown holiday tradition in its own right.
Decking the Halls… on a Bus
A carol-rapping dog, a Christmas tree on the fare box, battery-operated lights, candy canes, holiday decals on windows, reindeer ornaments – these are what makes Metro bus operator Orlando King’s bus special during the holidays.
King has worked at Metro since June 1992. Since the mid-1990s, he has added decorations to his bus each morning before starting his routes during the holidays.
“I have decorations that I’ve picked up over the years. I think it can really change people’s attitude. It brightens their day and makes them feel good. Kids get a kick out of it. I see a lot of smiles when I decorate,” King said. “It makes me feel good to make my riders feel good.”