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Hitting the Road for a Good Cause

Heather Redfern
SEPTA Public Information Manager

SEPTA's sixth annual "Stop Hunger at Your Station" food drive to benefit Philabundance is underway and that means the 2014 edition of the Authority's food drive bus has hit the streets and will be coming to a SEPTA station near you over the next two weeks.

The brightly colored bus can't be missed as it travels thorough the Greater Philadelphia region. "This year, we went with purple- a very strong, eye catching color that complements the red stop sign, which as our goal would make people want to stop, read the message and, hopefully, feel compelled to help," said Milagros Rivera-Archer, SEPTA's graphic designer who has created the bus' look every year since the campaign started in 2009.

In addition to the familiar stop sign logo, the graphics include outstretched hands. "The concept of the heart in the hand idea represents giving, sharing, a helping hand, people reaching out from the heart to help others," said Rivera-Archer. "We started with one hand and every year we add an additional one. This is our sixth year with this campaign and I'm always looking forward to designing something that will still reflect the initial look but keep it interesting and fresh at the same time."

The bus design incorporates elements used in all food drive promotional materials- posters, handouts, billboards, the SEPTA website and station digital screens- but, as Rivera-Archer explains, bringing those elements together for the bus wrap is always a challenge. "The wrap has to be simple and bold enough to catch the eye of everyone on its path with less than five seconds of exposure as the bus drives by," she said. "I think we've accomplished that goal with our wrapped busses throughout these six years. I feel very proud when I see it drive by. I hope it moves people to donate to the many families in need in our region. I think it's one of the most gratifying campaigns SEPTA is involved in and it's exciting and humbling for me be a part of it."

Of course, the bus wouldn't make its way to SEPTA's stations and transportation centers without a talented team to take it on the road. Supervisor Michelle Norman has been a mainstay on the bus for the past four years. Since last year, she has been joined by operator Zenon "John" Rinylo, a 36-year SEPTA employee and reigning Authority Bus Roadeo champion. This year, supervisor Lanorde Wheeler, a 20-year SEPTA employee, will be also be part of the Philabundance bus crew. "I love this assignment," said Norman, a 14-year SEPTA employee. "It's fun getting out, going to our different locations and meeting people." Norman is selected for the bus team for her boisterous personality and ability to compel SEPTA customers and passerbys to make a donation.

Not only has Norman interacted with many of the millions of SEPTA customers who have donated over 90 tons of food since the drive began in 2009, she has also met some of those who benefit from the "Stop Hunger at Your Station" drive. "Once, we were parked outside of SEPTA's headquarters and a man who depends upon Philabundance for food came up and thanked me for what we are doing," said Norman. "That was very touching and makes rearranging my schedule to go out on the bus worthwhile." Norman also recalls being with the bus at Swarthmore Regional Rail Station and having 30 children from a local daycare center bring containers of peanut butter. "Those kids are learning early the importance of helping others," Norman said. "Every year, I wait for a special story like that one."

The 2014 "Stop Hunger at Your Station" bus tour kicked off with an appearance on Fox 29's "Good Day, Philadelphia" morning show on October 20. Through November 3, the bus will be making two stops a day, during the morning and evening rush hours, at Regional Rail stations and transportation centers throughout SEPTA's service area. The bus will also be in revenue service on the Route 17 on October 25 and the Route 23 on October 26.

"Check the website for the schedule and bring your donations," said Norman. "We want to see you."

If the Philabundance bus is not making a visit to your station, you can still donate. Collection barrels will be placed at 43 locations throughout the Authority's service area. Monetary donations can also be made online and via text. For more information, click here.

The 2014 SEPTA Philabundance Bus is on the road again, collecting food for those in need.

SEPTA GM Joe Casey and Philabundance Interim Executive Director Mark Bender kicked off the 2014 food drive at a pep rally on October 17.

Milagros Rivera-Archer has designed the "Stop Hunger at Your Station" bus since the campaign began in 2009.

Heading out on the bus tour this year are (from left): supervisors Michelle Norman and Lanorde Wheeler and operator Zenon "John" Rinylo.

Eagles linebacker and SEPTA rider Connor Barwin stopped to visit GM Joe Casey when the food drive bus appeared on Fox 29's "Good Day, Philadelphia".