OUR CRAM THE VAN STORY
Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun and helping others! In 2014, Wheatland Electric set out to find a new way to expand our involvement in the seventh cooperative principle: “Concern for the Community.” Several ideas were kicked around, but we ultimately settled on a community food drive.
The main object was set - collect non-perishable food items from co-op members and deliver to the local community food banks in time for the holiday season. Members helping members. And just like that, Cram the Van was born.
That inaugural year, we found the largest vehicle in our fleet (a big, red extended Chevy passenger van), removed all the seats from the back, plastered on some flashy graphics, and set out to help the people of our communities. The plan was to grill hamburgers and hotdogs as a “thank you” for donations, and to make stops all throughout our service territory.
We wish we could say everything went smoothly that first year with no hiccups, but that’s not the world be live in. However, what we learned throughout the year was invaluable, and towards the end of campaign we really started to hit our stride. We knew we were on to something when the van was met with enthusiasm and generosity everywhere it went. We ended up setting a great baseline for that first-year total at 6,615 pounds donated.
Over the past nine years (!) we’ve added school competitions, expanded the Fall Finale and continue to beat the previous year’s total with record-breaking totals! Whether it has been a cold Friday night football game in Conway Springs, or a hot windy afternoon in Tribune, Cram the Van has braved the Kansas weather making dozens of stops every fall, and the communities have always responded. Over the last nine years, we've collected more than 86 tons of food donations. And all items are delivered to the local food banks in the communities in which they were donated.
In 2020, we were presented unique challenges. The WAY we did things might have changed, but the WHY remained the same. Events were changed to a drive-thru format, and every precaution was taken to ensure the safety of those participating. Our members stepped up and we were able to donate a total of 32,206 pounds of food!
In 2021, we came back strong, proclaiming "Yes, WE Can!" With the help of our generous members we were able to donate 44,576 pounds of food, bringing our grand total to a whopping 86 TONS donated to date! We are hopeful that 2022 will be our BIGGEST, BRIGHTEST, and BEST year yet!
Cram the Van has played a large part in our efforts to espouse “Concern for the Community” (the seventh cooperative principle). In all honesty we have only played a small part in facilitating the response from our cooperative Members who want nothing more than to help other Members within their own communities.
Thank you to all the Wheatland employees and volunteers who have made the last nine years such a success. We are excited for what the future might have in store, and, as always, thank you for helping us CRAM THE VAN, year after year!