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Many stop by Miracle Mile to help 'Stuff a Bus' for kids

| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 8:49 a.m.
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Helping to 'stuff' bus #11 with toys are Stephanie Werner of Whitehall, Ray Spellams of Moon Township, Autumn Geiser of Murrysville and Gina Mitchell of Plum. They were among the many donors who stopped at the Miracle Mile site of the 96.1 Kiss Stuff-A-Bus last week to drop of toys for this years Toys for Tots drive on Nov. 29, 2012. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
A bus full of toys — driven by Santa from California University of Pennsylvania — arrives Nov. 29, 2012, at the 96.1 Kiss Stuff-A-Bus site at Miracle Mile Shopping Center in Monroeville. This marks the fifth year the student government at the university has participated in Toys for Tots and the second year they filled the CALU Flyer with toys. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Angelique Holmes of Penn Hills helps to unload a bus full of toys donated by the university on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. This marks the fifth year the student government at the university has participated in Toys for Tots drive and the second year they filled the CALU Flyer with toys. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Mikey Dougherty of 96.1 KISS thanks Andrea Marconi of California University of Pennsylvania for their bus full of toys on Nov. 29, 2012. This marks the fifth year the student government at the university has participated in Toys for Tots drive and the second year they filled the CALU Flyer with toys, including several bicycles. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express

The spirit of giving was at the heart of the Monroeville business district last week.

The ninth annual Stuff-a-Bus project at Miracle Mile Shopping Center drew toy donations from residents and businesses throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Five days of donation are hosted each year by the 96.1-FM Kiss Morning Freak Show, which airs live from the Miracle Mile parking lot during the toy drive. Hosts Mike Dougherty and Bob Mason — aka Mikey and Big Bob — camp out in the parking lot each year.

“It's more fun than an average day in the office,” Mason said. “You don't know who is going to show up from minute to minute.”

Nearly 35 school buses were filled with toys, with help from Monroeville firefighters, who donated about $3,000 worth of toys, said Ron Harvey, fire chief for Monroeville Company 5. And there were countless individuals, such as Kim Calloway, 42, of Monroeville.

“It's about the kids,” said Calloway, who showed up last week to donate.

A bus from California University of Pennsylvania also arrived with $7,000 worth of toys.

“It's a tradition every year to try to increase our goal,” said Cal U student Chelsea Getsy, 19, of Plum.

Getsy challenged Dougherty to a race on children's bicycles. Dougherty, who stands about 6-foot-8, was beaten handily.

“We gotta do things like that to keep our sanity out here,” Dougherty said.

Mason's frequent naps became a source of entertainment for Dougherty, who buried him in toys while he slept.

Donations were delivered to the local Toys for Tots headquarters in North Versailles, which serves communities throughout southeastern Allegheny County. As of last week, about 20,000 toys had been donated to the center, said U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant James Lawracy. He is coordinating a Toys for Tots donation center for the first time.

“I have a 4-year-old daughter, so I can understand where people are coming from.”

The first Toys for Tots was organized in 1947 by Major Bill Hendricks, of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, according to the Toys for Tots website. The program since has spread to more than 700 communities throughout the U.S.

“It's pretty humbling,” Lawracy said.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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