The generous hearts of the community were on full display today as Fill the Bus made its fifth annual trip around the city.

Cans of baked beans, packets of pasta, boxes of Weet-Bix were among the items piled on to the bus that was packed to the brim by the end of the 10-hour trip.

All items collected were set to go towards the Rotorua Daily Post and Salvation Army Christmas Appeal to restock the organisation's foodbank in time for Christmas and into 2020.

Preschoolers from Awhi Educare Owhata heading to the bus with their cans. Photo / Andrew Warner
Preschoolers from Awhi Educare Owhata heading to the bus with their cans. Photo / Andrew Warner

Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Ritchies donated the use of a bus, which made its way around the city from 8am, starting at the Redwoods Shopping Centre.

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The first donation of the day was brought down by Rachel Rowe, who said since she could afford to do it, she had "no reason not to".

From there the bus stopped at 20 locations around the city, including public shopping destinations, schools and businesses.

Children came out in the masses to show their support, equipped with cans and boxes of food to donate.

The grinch was a hit at Rotokawa Primary School. Photo / Andrew Warner
The grinch was a hit at Rotokawa Primary School. Photo / Andrew Warner

Schools and businesses all got right behind the cause, throwing discos and mufti days to gather donations for the big day.

Thousands of cans were donated from each school with boxes and boxes loaded on to the bus by smiling students and even preschoolers.

Rotorua Primary School and Rotokawa School both brought all their students out to greet the big green bus.

Salvation Army corps officer Ralph Overbye said the day was a total "highlight of the year" for the charity and himself too.

Otonga Primary School with their haul of donations. Photo / Andrew Warner
Otonga Primary School with their haul of donations. Photo / Andrew Warner

He said it was incredible how much food was given, but at the end of the day "it was about so much more than that".

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He enjoyed being able to get out into the community and meet the people giving back, he said.

The schools were important because it gave the kids a "sense of community" and helped them understand that the world was a lot bigger than their immediate surroundings.

"It helps them learn that our community doesn't all have the same opportunities."

By 1pm, only halfway through the day, the bus was virtually full and the team had to make a plan B to transport any more supplies.

Overbye said this would be the fastest the bus had filled up.

Foodbank co-ordinator Glen Harmer said Fill the Bus was the "main event of the year" for the foodbank and gave them a much-needed boost for Christmas.

Rotorua Primary School students Ali Acton, 5 and Ella Vincent, 9 with their donations. Photo / Andrew Warner
Rotorua Primary School students Ali Acton, 5 and Ella Vincent, 9 with their donations. Photo / Andrew Warner

He said it was overwhelming to see how generous the community were and he expected the foodbank to be "bursting at the seams" by the end of the day.

"Thank you Rotorua for your willingness to make a difference for those people who need it."

The Hits' host Paul Hickey, who spent most of the day on the bus, said there was such an "air of positivity" as everyone who came on and off the bus had the biggest smile.

He said it was great to see everyone so happy to be giving back and helping.

It was a lot of hard work for the volunteers loading the bus, but it was so "worth it", he said.

Preschoolers from Awhi Educare Owhata heading to the bus with their cans. Photo / Andrew Warner
Preschoolers from Awhi Educare Owhata heading to the bus with their cans. Photo / Andrew Warner

The route's final stop was at Countdown Fairy Springs before lugging the full bus back to the Salvation Army to unload. The final tally will be revealed tomorrow.