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Students step up to help Central Illinois tornado victims

Stuff the Bus drop-off location

Students at the Stuff the Bus drop-off location Tuesday at Schroeder Plaza.

Illinois State students mobilized to collect donations and raise money to help Central Illinois victims of the deadly tornadoes and storms November 17.

The largest student-led relief effort on campus is the Stuff the Bus donation drive, spearheaded by University Program Board (UPB) and Leadership and Service, a unit of the Dean of Students Office. Stuff the Bus kicked off November 19, asking students to funnel all donations to one bus parked on Schroeder Plaza. The bus was parked there all this week before students delivered their shipment to hard-hit Washington, Illinois.

In the wake of the November 17 storms, UPB President Luke Vernam saw several different student groups starting their own smaller donation drives and thought a campuswide coordinated effort might work best.

“Being able to sort everything together, having one delivery coming out of ISU, that will definitely help get the items over there faster,” said Vernam, a junior integrated marketing communication and business teacher education major. “It’s really cool to see a lot of organizations coming together to do this.”

By November 19, the Stuff the Bus Facebook event page was already gaining traction, with 500+ RSVP “yes” attendees and thousands more invited.

Stuff the Bus—with an actual ISU bus donated by Facilities Management—will be on the north end of the Quad every day through Friday. Donations most needed include:

  • Monetary gifts (cash donations)
  • Hygiene and personal care items, such as soap, deodorant, razors, and diapers
  • Nonperishable food items (such as anything students won’t need over Thanksgiving break)

The Illinois State campus sustained only minor property damage and no injuries were reported. However, the Dean of Students Office is offering assistance and support to students impacted by the severe weather. The University has a number of students from impacted communities, including Washington.

Tornado relief efforts

There are other tornado relief efforts underway on the Illinois State campus this week.

  • The Department of Agriculture, led by its student organizations, will host a benefit lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, November 20, at the Ropp Agriculture Building. Burger, chips, and drink for a $5 donation. The College of Business is encouraging its students, faculty, and staff to participate in the benefit lunch, even challenging its sales students to push the offer to their peers and partner companies.
  • The Athletics Department will be collecting bottled water and monetary donations at the men’s and women’s basketball games this week at Redbird Arena.
  • The Alpha Kappa Psi fraternity will host a donation drive Wednesday, November 20, as part of a Red Cross blood drive.

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Ryan Denham can be reached at