Volunteer drivers brave blizzard to help deliver ‘Sunshine’

Folks at the Portland Police Bureau’s Sunshine Division wondered whether the snowy weather would leave needy families without food boxes for the holidays. Boy, were they surprised when then opened the station house door! Find out who showed up …

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Police Cadets Andrea Ettlin, Colton Sharmen, Ryan Mele, and Jose Perez get ready to load food boxes into the vehicles of drivers who await to take them to needy families.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The wacky winter weather on the morning of December 20 worried Cliff Madison, retired Portland Police Commander, and Chairman of the Sunshine Division’s board of directors. He, and everyone else involved with the annual food box delivery program, wondered if anyone would brave the sideways-blowing snow and predicted blizzard.

“Here at East Precinct,” Madison said that day, “We have 554 boxes of food – complete dinners, including meat and bread – that need to be delivered, today.”

While the food drive distribution materials were being organized by members of the Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Police Cadets in the station’s garage, folks started filling in the Community Room, awaiting dispatch on their seasonal mission of mercy.

Thanks to many drivers from outer East Portland – plus many more from Gresham and East Multnomah County – it looked as if many volunteers had braved the elements to help make deliveries.

Gresham’s Steve and Shannon Jannsen are waiting to get their car loaded with Sunshine Division food boxes in the East Precinct Community Room.

Waiting in the early-morning sub-freezing temperatures, with snow falling and swirling around, volunteer drivers line up in front of East Precinct, ready to receive their cargos of mercy.

Come to ‘share their blessings’
Steve and Shannon Jannsen, who live in Hunter’s Highland in Gresham, warmed up in the precinct’s Community Room before they made their delivery run. “We came to help, because we feel so blessed this year,” Shannon told us. “We wanted to share our blessing with somebody else.”

“My motivation for coming was that I didn’t know if other people would be inclined to come out,” Steve said. “I figure that Christmastime is the best and most appropriate time to show the love of Christ through works; that’s enough motivation for me.”

Before being loaded up to make deliveries, Portland Police Officer Larry Keller gets his delivery instructions and maps from “traffic coordinator” Kandi Marks, an East Precinct employee.

Sunshine Division’s Chair, Cliff Madison, and East Precinct Officer Michael Gallagher, coordinator of the East Precinct Police Cadet program say they’re thrilled with the volunteer turnout on such a nasty morning.

Intrepid drivers lined up on SE 106th Avenue
When they opened the parking garage door, organizers were surprised and delighted to see a line of vehicles that stretched northward to SE Washington Street. Others queued up in the Floyd Light Middle School parking lot.

“The number of drivers here amazes me,” East Precinct Officer Michael Gallagher, coordinator of the East Precinct Police Cadet program, told us. “With these weather conditions, we were concerned we might not have nearly enough drivers to get the boxes delivered before the blizzard sets in this afternoon.”

Eleven East Precinct Police Cadets picked and packed food boxes, meat and bread into cars, trucks, vans – and even an open-air Jeep. Five more Cadets hopped into tire-chained bureau cars and headed out to make distant deliveries.

“Every year, many of our cadets say they look forward to helping out on this project, because they find it so rewarding,” Gallagher commended. “It would be difficult to do without their hard work.”

East Precinct Police Cadets hustle to load cars and trucks, quickly sending them on their way.

Saying he “Just came to help our community”, Joe Short drove in from his home in East Gresham to volunteer for the Sunshine Division deliveries. East Precinct Cadet Adam Hartless loaded Joe’s SUV to the roof with food for the needy.

Many volunteers quickly pack out boxes
In addition to the score of civilian volunteers, cops such as East Precinct Officer Mike Chapman and his wife, Rachel, packed 19 boxes into their car. “We live here in outer East Portland,” Rachel said. “We took boxes to deliver to people in the district he patrols.”

While they didn’t have an exact count, officials estimate about 130 drivers came to drive Sunshine Division food boxes to their destinations.

“The best thing about having so many willing drivers,” Gallagher reflected, “is that all of the boxes were out by 10:30 a.m. – well ahead of the blizzard.”

In addition to encouraging folks to help the Sunshine Division deliver boxes, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs (second from left) and his family themselves headed out with a SUV full of food boxes.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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