Hundreds of ‘Sunshine’ boxes brighten Holidays

See the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ in action, as Police Cadets, and scores of volunteer drivers, bring complete Holiday meals to outer East Portland families …

Volunteer drivers line up in the Hazelwood neighborhood, outside the Portland Police Bureau East Precinct building, ready to deliver Sunshine Division Holiday Food Boxes.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Last year, on the Saturday before Christmas, things looked bleak when only a few volunteers showed up to deliver Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Sunshine Division Holiday Food Boxes.  But, this year

“Great news; we have all the volunteers necessary for our East Precinct delivery hub, as well as our new SE Stark Food Pantry location,” exclaimed Sunshine Division Executive Director Kyle Camberg.

Moments before they begin loading volunteer drivers’ vehicles, PPB East Precinct Cadets gather for a team photo.

Thanks to a new system for organizing volunteer drivers, delivery helpers were plentiful at the East Precinct distribution point for the Holiday Food Box program, now in its 96th year, as it got underway on Saturday morning, December 22.

After queueing up in the Floyd Light Middle School parking lot across the street, drivers were directed into the Precinct’s garage “sally port”, usually a secured area, where they were provided delivery maps and slips, after which PPB Cadets loaded them up with food boxes.

East Precinct Commander Bryan Parman checks in with a driver.

“I think today is truly one of our favorite days of the year,” smiled PPB East Precinct Commander Bryan Parman, pausing from helping with logistics and box-lifting.

“This is an opportunity for us at the Bureau to come together with the greater community, supporting folks who need help,” Parman told East Portland News. “We’re proud to help carry on the long tradition of the Sunshine Division; and, we’re especially thankful for the help and support of our East Precinct Cadets!”

With that, the commander hustled away to help ready some of the more than 600 boxes scheduled for delivery in East Precinct, this year – up from 500 last year.

Members of the Hubbard, Beyers, Wittren, and Ramsey families say they are ready to make their delivery runs.

Pausing for a moment are spokesperson PPB Cadet Gabriel Benfield with Clackamas High senior and Cadet Ryan Hogan, and Cadet Alyssa Kerth, a freshman Mt. Hood Community College.

George Fox University senior, PPB Cadet Lieutenant Gabriel Benfield, said that, in addition to classroom learning and practical training, their group works many “details” – such as helping keep pedestrians safe who visit The Grotto this time of year.

“But this detail, when we’re helping with the Sunshine Food boxes, we know that we’re helping those who need extra help around the Holidays have a great meal – Including turkey, stuffing and fresh vegetables,” Benfield said. “It’s a really good feeling!”

To learn more about the PPB Cadet program, CLICK HERE.

Ready to head out to make their deliveries, these volunteers are from the Outhaythip and Wiebe families.

For the first time, here, a food box distribution hub is set up next to the SE Stark Sunshine Food Pantry location, where cars are loaded by volunteers.

About twenty blocks east, in the parking lot next to the SE Stark Sunshine Food Pantry, another group of volunteers worked under temporary weather shelters, as they stayed busy loading the vehicles of volunteer drivers with some of the approximately 2,500 hearty meals that were delivered to the doors of families who’d previously signed up, via the Sunshine Division.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to deliver food; in fact, our family considers it a blessing to be able to help out,” remarked Rick Kidderman, as he returned his delivery cards. “It just makes us feel all warm to be able to cheer up the people we visited today.”

At the food pantry location, Juanita Kitterman oversees the distribution of plush toys, donated at the Portland Winterhawks Teddy bear Toss promotion back in November.

By the way, the PPB Sunshine Division works year-around supporting individuals in need. To help, or if you know someone who needs help, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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