RUTLAND If charity begins at home, than downtown Rutland last week was the place for the generosity of strangers. Once again, the Stuff-a-Bus was back at the downtown Rutland shopping center. Last week, individuals and businesses were encouraged to drop off any non-perishable food items to help support the local community. The campaign began when Chris McCormack from the Salvation Army Advisory Board asked Terry Jaye of WJJR-FM if a Stuff-a-Bus program would work in Rutland. 14 years later, businesses and individuals have made the dream a very successful reality. The Salvation Army of Rutland thanks all of its supporters including, but not limited to, the Bus, LaValleys, Citizens Bank, Price Chopper, TD Banknorth, Walmart, the Vermont Country Store, and Hannaford Supermarkets. However, army staffers especially thank Rutland City residents for giving in these hard economic times. Students of Northwest Elementary School and Rutland Intermediate School made large contributions in the morning of the first day of the campaign and helped fill half the bus by mid week last week. The 2008 Stuff-a-Bus goal was to do better than last year. According to local radio personality Nanci Gordon, filling three buses means supporting 500 households in need. She explained that individuals and families are asked to demonstrate need. The Salvation Army and Broc hopes to use the generous donations to first enrich everyone in need with a full Thanksgiving meal. The need is huge, said Gordon. Single person households to multiple person households are feeling the constraints in this economic downturn. The people asking for assistance are the elderly, the disabled, the chronically ill, and working families who have overwhelming situations like the loss of a job or high medical expenses that redirects finances. Sally Rochon of the Salvation Army and Gordon saw an unidentified Rutland man dropping off a bag of groceries. I am doing what I can this year because last year at this time I was on the receiving end and I will never forget that-ever, the man said. Young or old, rich or poor remember theres no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no end. Just before the end of last weeks Stuff-a-Bus collection campaign, a two-and one-half-year old girl reached out to Gordon with a can of food and said, I want to share, too.