Droves of drivers help cops deliver ‘boxes of sunshine’

Take a look at this, and you’ll discover why so many motorists made their way to East Precinct on a frosty, foggy Saturday morning …

Drivers line up along SE 106th Avenue, as the Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division delivery day begins.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A bumper crop of volunteers driving cars, trucks, and vans grew in number – first in the Floyd Light Middle School parking lot, then near the East Portland Community Center, and finally down SE 106th Avenue – starting at 7:30 a.m. on December 17.

These people weren’t lining up for a free gift. Instead, they all came to help the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) “Sunshine Division” deliver hundreds of holiday food boxes to the needy.

Scholars and mentors from the PPB’s “Z-Man Foundation” get ready to help by distributing information to drivers, already lined up in the cue.

“This tradition is the foundation of giving on which the Sunshine Division was built,” exclaimed Officer-in-Charge Phil Kent. “It began in 1923, when a group of police officers began taking up a collection to feed local families. Throughout its 88-year history, the Sunshine Division has provided emergency food to local families at Christmas. However, it’s actually a year-round nonprofit, which provides emergency food and clothing to families and individuals in need.”

Waiting for their delivery list for the load of food provided by the “Sunshine Division” are Scott Chamberlain, Samson, Ruthann Morris, and Linda Chamberlain

Linda Chamberlain and friends patiently waited in the queue for the PPB East Precinct garage doors to roll open. “We do this every year; I think this is our 12th year. We do this to help bless those that are less fortunate. It feels good lend a hand, helping people are in need, or maybe a little down on their luck, to enjoy the Holidays.”

East Precinct Administrative Supervisor Karen Lavoie and Kandi Marks, Administrative Assistant, coordinate providing the volunteer drivers their delivery routes.

As PPB East Precinct Captain Mark Kruger drives in to get his delivery boxes, he’s greeted by Commander Michael Lee.

East Precinct Commander Michael Lee commented that there were about 350 Sunshine Division food boxes to be delivered this year. He told about volunteering at the Sunshine Division warehouse in North Portland with many others, to pack the boxes – all 3,500 of them – to be distributed at Portland’s three police precincts.

Asked why he felt it was important to offer his time, Lee replied, “We have people who are in need. This time of year, it’s important to remember all that we have. And then, it’s about helping those who are less fortunate than us, through the season. With the all the economic uncertainty this year, and more people finding themselves in dire straits, we try to help out when we can.”

Ready to again load vehicles with food boxes are this energetic group – the PPB East Precinct Cadets.

Powellhurst-Gilbert’s Jack Vahey covers up the boxes he’s ready to deliver.

East Precinct Cadets Kevin Mahn and Adam Hartless help load another car.

Lee commended the volunteers from his staff, the PPB East Precinct Cadets and the other volunteers who helped with the morning-long project. All the cars and trucks lined up, ready to deliver packages, Lee added, “Warms your heart a little bit – just seeing all these folks who get up bright and early on a cold Saturday morning, and come over here to help others out.”

As usual, East Precinct Officer Michael Gallagher, a long-time mentor in the East Precinct Cadet program, told us that nearly the entire group answered the call to volunteer. “It’s not easy to get up early and come out on a chilly Saturday morning, but they really enjoy helping people – helping to spread Christmas cheer.”

A familiar face, East Precinct’s retired Commander Bill Walker, looks happy to continue to help with the deliveries. “Thousands of people depend on the Sunshine Division to deliver food box at this time of year,” Walker says.

Best stand clear, as dozens of vehicles are being loaded with their boxes of “sunshine”.

If you want to learn more about the work of the PPB Sunshine Division, CLICK HERE to see their website.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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