(WTNH) – A bus has become an important symbol in a local woman’s operation, not only how she makes a paycheck, but how she can pay it forward in the community.

Karol Gleason drives a school bus by day and stuffs it by night.

“I said, ‘well, they’re not taking them because of COVID,’ so I put them in my car. I’ll give the money to the food pantry,” Gleason said.

Gleason started collecting bottles and cans at the start of the pandemic.

“I got home and posted on Facebook, and everyone started donating,” Gleason said.

Collecting and cashing in for a good cause.

“So far, I’ve given a check total to the Jewett City Food Pantry for $13,500,” Gleason said.

The bulk of the money is used to put food on the table in her community.

“Last night I counted 2,000,” Gleason said.

The rest is used to buy items for teenagers in need.

“Teenagers are always the ones not included in the Tommy Toy Fund,” Gleason said.

It all happens inside a bus. The bus has become a big symbol in her life. Gleason is no stranger to serving the community. She’s a Navy veteran, who after spending time in the service herself, raised two boys who are also in the service now, after teaching them at a young age to give back.

“On Thanksgiving, they would deliver meals to people, so I started that with my older son when he was three or four,” Gleason said.

Now, it’s a year-round effort collecting, donating, helping the community from the big yellow bus with no plans to hit the brakes.

“I could probably start crying right now just thinking about what it does to the community, to the people who need it most,” Gleason said.

It’s what makes her remarkable.