But the holiday season also is known as a time for giving to those in need.
For 13 years now, KOZZ-FM morning show host Jim McClain has informally kicked off the holiday giving season with the Stuff-A-Bus campaign, which collects clothing, food and toys for The Salvation Army (SA) to distribute to low-income families and children.
“We’re just pushing the fact that we’re out here,” McClain said on Wednesday afternoon while standing outside a huge bus parked at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.
The collection drive, which continues today and ends at noon on Friday, last year gathered more than 1,600 pounds of food, more than 3,700 pounds of clothing, 360 new toys and about $600 in donations.
“This has been sort of the shot in the arm” jumpstarting the holiday giving season, Maj. Janene Zielinski, SA corps officer, said of Stuff-A-Bus. “It’s kind of Christmas before Christmas.”
In fact, the Stuff-A-Bus campaign is increasingly important because of the growing number of needy families and individuals in northern Nevada.
Demand for SA social services has jumped about 50 percent in the last year, Zielinski said, as people who used to be givers are now looking for assistance with basic needs.
“We’re seeing a lot more new homeless,” Zielinski added.
Moreover, 1,749 people sought help from the local SA last week alone, Zielinski reported.
The growing list of low-income families in need has been met with a growing number of helping hands, even despite the poor economy.
“(Turnout) has been a lot more than I thought it would be,” McClain said.
Christine Fey, a Reno resident, stopped by Wednesday to drop off a few canned food items she scrounged from around her house.
“I certainly have done more” giving in recent years, she said, acknowledging that the nation’s troubled economic climate has inspired her to give a little extra to those in need.
McClain believes that many Americans have responded similarly, giving more of what they have despite having less to give.
“More people bring fewer things,” he said.
But with an empty bus to fill — save for the last row already full of coats and canned food on Wednesday — McClain still harbors some concern about the collection drive.
“It’s daunting not knowing whether we’ll fill (the bus) or not,” he said.
As if pitching the event’s worth, McClain made the case for contributing to Stuff-A-Bus.
“It is a very simple way to help out,” he said. “The little things help.”
The Stuff-A-Bus campaign continues until noon Friday. The bus is located in the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa parking lot at the southwest corner of Virginia Street and Peckham Lane next to the sky bridge entrance.