Drivers spread sunshine across outer East Portland

Because folks showed up in record numbers, see how many food boxes were delivered for the “Sunshine Division” this year …

With open hearts, empty vehicles, and willing hands, volunteer drivers from all over East County line up to help the Sunshine Division deliver each-and-every food box to its recipient.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
How many volunteer drivers does it take to deliver more than 450 food boxes to needy residents throughout East Portland?

We’re still not sure exactly how many vehicles showed up during the early morning hours of December 15; we’re guessing over 100 – enough to speed boxes containing a complete Christmas dinner (and then some) to East Portland residents.

Former precinct commander Cliff Jensen (in the center, facing us) comes to load his truck with Sunshine Division food boxes.

“I’m glad to help deliver boxes to the great folks in East Portland,” was the sentiment expressed by retired Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Cliff Jensen. “We’re doing this to give back to the community. I grew up in Southeast Portland; this is our home.”

Another driver, Alden Lewis told us, “We thought it was a good cause. We read about it, and decided to let the kids participate. Young people need to know there are people less fortunate that we are, and we need to give them a hand.”

Again this year, Portland Police East Precinct Cadets help speed the loading process as cars pass through the precinct garage.

David Ward told us that he drove in from Troutdale to help make deliveries. “This is our 6th year making deliveries. We do a service project every year with our family. Seeing how grateful people who are in need and deserve a hand are, gives us a great feeling, because we helped.”

New police cadet recruits Trever Ethridge and Luke Guthridge put their backs into loading up cars on December 15.

“I saw there was a need for drivers and thought this was something I could do,” said Joe Stroud, a Parkrose resident. “I’m glad to help out during the holiday season.”

The current commander of East Precinct, Michael Crebs, said he was concerned there might be a shortage of drivers this year and was among the first drivers to start making deliveries. “When we returned for more boxes to deliver, we found that the community really responded to our request for drivers – and all of the boxes were already on their way. We thank you so much.”

Leading by example, cadet post advisor Sgt. Michael Gallagher works hard and helps keep the flow of food boxes coming to waiting drivers.

465 boxes delivered
In 2006, the lack of volunteer drivers made it difficult for all of the food boxes to be delivered in a timely fashion.

“But this year,” reported Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Sgt. Michael Gallagher, and Post Advisor of the East Precinct Cadets, “we had the perfect amount of drivers for the number of boxes that needed to be delivered. Our last driver took the last three boxes.”

Gallagher added that this charitable event depends on good-hearted volunteers willing to give up a couple of hours to help. “The Sunshine Division Holiday Box program is successful – but only because of the community’s help. We really appreciate the support of drivers who came out to help from all over East County.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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