Lancaster – The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) Stuff-a-Bus is moving full speed ahead with its annual holiday toy drive! AVTA’s staff and charity volunteers have been busy collecting donations of new toys and clothing items for local children in need this holiday season. Their goal is to collect enough toys, clothing, and other gifts to fill up the 40’ specially decorated bus to the roof. With nearly $24,000 raised by community business sponsors to help purchase items for the toy drive, the bus is bursting with holiday cheer and the transit agency is more than halfway towards its goal.

 The record number of toys and gifts collected so far would not have been possible without the generous support of major sponsors like Walmart, Complete Coach Works, BYD, Transdev, Granite Construction, Rally Chevrolet, and the Jethawks, who collectively donated more than half of the overall total cash raised to purchase gifts for the Valley’s less fortunate children.

The cities of Lancaster and Palmdale are also getting into the action by hosting special events to support AVTA’s Stuff-a-Bus. The City of Palmdale is again challenging its employees to donate to Stuff-a-Bus with a fun contest, and has pledged a minimum of 400 toys and gifts for the event, while officials from the City of Lancaster and Remax will join forces on a shopping excursion to help “Stuff That Bus!” even more!

“The AVTA holiday toy drive is an incredible community effort that highlights the unity of Antelope Valley residents,” said AVTA Chair Marvin Crist. “Stuff-a-Bus has been a success for more than 20 years, thanks to support from the business community and from local charity volunteers, who step up year after year to help without hesitation.”

AVTA officials estimate they have collected approximately 3,000 toys and gifts so far, but there is room for more and the agency hopes to fill in the gaps this weekend with two more opportunities for AV residents to donate to AVTA’s Stuff-a-Bus. On Saturday, December 12, the Stuff-A-Bus will take part in the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce William J. “Pete” Knight “Frozen” Christmas Parade. Later that same day, the bus will be part of “A Magical BLVD Christmas” on Lancaster Blvd. From 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., the Stuff-a-Bus will be ready and waiting for donations of new unwrapped toys and clothing. A large quantity of new toys will be on hand at this event, and for a small donation, folks can choose an item to stuff inside the bus. The final opportunity to help “Stuff That Bus!” will be on Sunday, December 13th, at the Antelope Valley Mall front entrance, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Residents can also stop by Palmdale City Hall, Monday through Thursday between 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. until December 14, to drop off a donation.

“The holidays are the perfect time of year to do things for others,” says AVTA Executive Director Len Engel. “We provide a service to the community every day, but the holidays are when we try to do something special for those who need it most. It’s AVTA’s way of promoting goodwill and cheer within the community.”

All items donated will stay in the Antelope Valley, and will benefit children from Grace Resource Center, South Antelope Valley Emergency Services of Palmdale (SAVES), Children’s Center of the Antelope Valley, Children’s Bureau, the Child and Family Guidance Center and the Marco & Sandra Johnson Foundation. Volunteers from each charity, along with AVTA staff members, will gather in the AVTA Community Room on December 17 at 10:00 a.m. for the Bagging Party, to bag up all of the donated toys and clothes. Each charity will be prepared to haul their goodies away for final distribution to the families they serve. The public is welcome to attend.

AVTA provides local, commuter, and dial-a-ride service to a population of more than 450,000 residents in the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale as well as the unincorporated portions of northern Los Angeles County. Its total service area covers 1,200 square miles and it is bounded by the Kern County line to the north, the San Bernardino County line to the east, the Angeles National Forest to the south, and Interstate 5 to the West.