Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

PVCP teams up with Growlers for ‘Stuff the Bus’ event

A volunteer is seen loading items for the Plainwell Volunteer Christmas Project last December. (Photo provided)

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor

With temperatures climbing to 90 degrees—and higher—on several occasions during the past few weeks, figuring out ways to stay warm hasn’t been an issue.
That, of course, will change when the seasons change from summer to autumn and eventually to winter. And those associated with the Plainwell Volunteer Christmas Project are already busy planning and preparing for those cold days ahead.
Beginning Thursday, July 14, and running through Saturday, July 14, the PVCP will host a Stuff the Bus event at the Wal-Mart in Plainwell (412 Oaks Crossing). During this time, new, unused blankets will be collected along with gift cards that will be used to help local families in need during the holiday season.
Donations at the bus will be accepted during the following hours: Thursday, July 14 from 1 to 6 p.m.; Friday, July 15, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, July 16, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This year, the Kalamazoo Growlers Baseball Club and Ron Jackson Insurance Agency are teaming up to help with donations and rally the community for this very important cause.
At the “Stuff The Bus” event, there will be player and mascot appearances, as well as entertainment provided from the Growlers. Ron Jackson Insurance Agency, meanwhile, has agreed to donate hundreds of Growlers-themed hats to provide kids with an additional surprise during the PVCP’s December pick-up event.
Growlers director of corporate partnerships CJ Hurley helped coordinate the team’s involvement with the PVCP.
“Each year, Ron Jackson Insurance donates thousands of hats to give out to fans and kiddos during the summer at the ballpark,” Hurley said. “This year, we were ideating with their team on how to make the donations impact more people, and I had just volunteered for the Christmas Project a week prior. We asked the Christmas Project if we could donate a few hundred hats to their December event, and they said yes.
“From there, it snowballed into even more with the Stuff the Bus Event in July. We’ll have players, our mascot and our Fire Juggling First Base Coach at the event to encourage people to visit, donate blankets and meet the team.”
The Growlers are members of the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer league that features players from across the country. As such, the organization has no affiliation with Major League Baseball and receives no funds from MLB or the NCAA.
Rather, the organization’s only sources of funding are the fans who attend the games and local businesses that provide sponsorships.
“The only reason we exist is the community,” Hurley said. “We’re always looking for ways to help the community, and the Plainwell Volunteer Christmas Project was just so perfect when it came to meeting that goal.”
The PVCP is a nonprofit (501c3) organization that has served those residing within the Plainwell school district since 1973. It provides hundreds of families in need with essential items during the holiday season.
The needs of approved families are carefully assessed, and in early December the volunteers for the PVCP visit multiple locations to pick up food, clothes, shoes, blankets, personal items and toys.
These items are then sorted by family and picked up by the recipient families in mid-December.
To assure that the necessary items are available for these families, the PVCP board members work year-round to build awareness within the community, solicit grants and gather donations. The Stuff the Bus event is one way that the PVCP secures those donations.
“Our only goal is to help the Christmas Project gather as many donations of blankets as possible,” Hurley said of the Growlers’ involvement with the Stuff the Bus event. “We just ask everyone who’s able to please join the Plainwell Volunteer Christmas Project and the Growlers to help keep needy community members warm this winter.
“And remember, gift cards are also accepted and appreciated.”
Some facts about heating needs during the winter are as follows:
● Inflation now is at the highest rate in 13 years and is a real concern for all Americans. Housing, food, furniture and many other goods are more expensive. The cost of another, more invisible commodity—home heating—is also projected to rise, perhaps by as much as 50 percent in the coming months. (USA Today, Oct. 2021)
● The [average] cost of home heating is expected to increase substantially across the board. Natural gas will increase 30 percent to $746; heating oil will increase 43 percent to $1,734; and electricity will increase six percent to $1,268. Paying so much more for warmth will cripple many already economically challenged households. (USA Today, Oct. 2021)
● Nearly one in three households in the United States are energy insecure, according to a 2015 report, meaning that they are unable to adequately meet household energy needs. (USA Today, Oct. 2021)
● More than 19,000 Americans have died of cold-related causes since 1979, many of them elderly. Excess winter deaths are a real threat when the cost of heating rises. (USA Today)
● In the last year, about 20 percent of Americans struggled to pay their energy bill in full at least once, according to a study by Help Advisor. At the same time, 18 percent kept their house at a temperature that was either unhealthy or unsafe. (CNBC, 2021)
● More than 28 percent of U.S. households skipped a basic expense such as food or medicine to pay an energy bill in the last 12 months. (CNBC, 2021)
● Nearly half of U.S. households that heat with natural gas are projected to spend 30 percent more than they did last winter on average. (Fuels Outlook 2021 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration)

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