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It’s that time of year again to help Stuff the Cruiser.

The annual holiday gift drive provides donated gifts and other goods to Butler County families in need during the holiday season. Hosted by the Butler County County Sheriff's Office, the program will be accepting donations through Dec. 19. Brand new toys, monetary donations and non-perishable grocery items can be dropped off at the office, 451 N. Fifth St., in David City.

“This is a great way to help people in Butler County,” Event Coordinator Cherie Meysenburg said.

So far, Meysenburg said about 40 families have signed up this holiday season to receive gifts. People can request items they would like to receive and the program will try to accommodate these wishes to the best of its ability. If the program is unable to reach enough inventory, Meysenburg said the office has the necessary funds to purchase additional gifts.

Last year, 32 families received gifts through the program and 48 were served in 2016. The gifting process is confidential and the only requirement for a family to sign up for the program is that they must be Butler County residents.

Stuff The Cruiser was started by late Butler County Sheriff Mark Hecker. Event Coordinator Linda Vandenberg said the gift drive is a great way to bring people in the area together to support one another.

“Well, I think it’s great for the kids and brings the community together,” Vandenberg said. “It teaches kids and families to share with children maybe less fortunate.”

In the past, the program hosted a single day where people would drop off the donations and program volunteers would load them into a police cruiser. This event would have games, cookies and Santa Claus present. But this year, Meysenburg said they changed the program to make it more convenient. Instead, people can drop off gifts at the office over an extended period of time. She said though the event in the past was fun, the idea with the change was to make things easier for people to drop off donations.

“Everyone is so busy during the holiday season,” Meysenburg said. “We just thought this would make it a little bit easier on people.”

Vandenberg agreed, adding change is a natural course of action as the program evolves to better meet the needs of county residents.

“It just changes, and there’s always changes all the time,” Vandenberg said.

For more information about Stuff the Cruiser, those interested are encouraged to contact the Butler County Sheriff’s Office by phone at 402-367-7400 or via Facebook at Stuff the Cruiser Butler County.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News Review.

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