Cadets, volunteers hustle out ‘Sunshine Boxes’

You’ll be amazed at how many outer East Portland families benefitted from food boxes delivered by the Police Bureau’s ‘Sunshine Division’ this year …

Outside the Portland Police Bureau East Precinct building, in the Mill Park neighborhood, volunteer drivers queue up to pick up Sunshine Division Holiday meal kits.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Hundreds of households are having a merrier Christmas, thanks to the efforts of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Sunshine Division, and of the scores of volunteers who help pack and deliver “dinner kits” to outer East Portland families in need.

While the Sunshine Division’s main warehouse is located in North Portland, many of the food boxes were distributed from PPB East Precinct, just across the street from Floyd Light Middle School, where volunteer drivers queued up the morning of December 16.

Chloe Vaughn, a student at Reynolds High School helps and East Precinct Administrative Supervisor Karen Levoie gather delivery slips inside the East Precinct’s garage.

“This year we have the largest ever number of boxes to deliver – 550 of them – so we’re hoping for a big turnout of volunteer drivers,” commented the local organizer, East Precinct Administrative Supervisor Karen Levoie.

“Again this year, inside the parking garage, Portland Police East Precinct Cadets are organizing the food boxes and bags, helping the drivers load their vehicles, and serving them coffee, hot chocolate, and doughnuts,” Lavoie told East Portland News.

Portland Police East Precinct Cadets, along with their advisors, including Officer Mike Gallagher who has been working with them for 12 years, get together for a group photo before they start loading cars.

“When the volunteer drivers come in, we first find out how many boxes they’re willing to deliver, then give them cards with the name and address of each recipient, and then load them up,” Lavoie said. “When the drivers come back to turn in their delivery cards, many of them decide to leave with a second load of boxes, if there are still some that have yet to be delivered.”

This year, each individual delivery consisted of a box, stuffed with a frozen turkey, dressing, and other side dishes. Also included was a large tote bag filled with groceries, and a fresh pumpkin pie from Shari’s Restaurants.

Ready to head out with the first load of food boxes of the day are brother and sister Wayne Marks and Kandi Marks.

Volunteer Driver Scott Samuelson tells East Precinct Commander Bryan Parman, “We came out today because it feels good to see the people’s faces light up when they get these boxes.

On hand to help out was PPB East Precinct Commander Bryan Parman, who gave the check-in crew and the Police Cadets a hand.

“This annual event is important to East Precinct, because the sad reality is that there are a lot of under-served Portlanders here in the mid-County area,” commented Parman. “Even though the new East Portland Sunshine Division office recently opened on SE Stark Street, the need is great here.”

Cadets hustle, gathering up the food boxes, bag, and pies, that they load into volunteer drivers’ vehicles.

“When I see the Cadets pitching in like this, it reminds me that this organization is all about service,” Parman reflected. “The youth here are our next generation, and we have a special connection with these young people, who are involved in their community and really working to make a difference.

“And, we could not do this without the volunteer drivers – the folks give their time to help serve their community,” Parman said.

“Santa” Tim Simmons and his “elf”, Jed Simmons, have their sleigh loaded and are ready to make deliveries.

As it turned out, compared to all the other years we’ve covered this story, about halfway through the deliveries, further volunteer drivers were in short supply.

The Cadets switched from loading cars, to taking both personal cars and the police vehicles they are approved to drive into the loading bay, stuffing them with boxes, and making trip after trip to outer East Portland homes to deliver the festive boxes.

With volunteer drivers in short supply, Cadets load up their own cars, to head out and make sure all of the Christmas meals are delivered.

Seeing the situation, this reporter decided to pitch in and help as well, and delivered four boxes too.

Comments from those receiving the boxes ranged from a simple “thank you” to one couple saying, “Wow, you really made our day, and our Holidays – Merry Christmas to you!”

And we, here at East Portland News, also wish our readers a warm and happy Holiday Season.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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