Police Cadets load, deliver food boxes

See how our outer East Portland Police Cadets, and lots of volunteer drivers, helped make sure hundreds of families had a brighter Christmas …

First in line to deliver Sunshine Division Holiday food boxes is Lents neighbor Carrie Bowen.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Vehicles started lining up early Saturday morning, December 21, queueing up in the Floyd Light Middle School parking lot to pick up Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Sunshine Division food boxes, from the PPB East Precinct garage, for delivery throughout the outer East Portland area.

In total, this year, the Sunshine Division packed 3,800 Holiday food boxes with shelf-stable foods. Fresh produce and frozen food were added to these boxes just as the volunteer drivers picked them up, assisted by PPB East Precinct Cadets.

After preparing food boxes for loading, these PPB Cadets and officers pause for a “team photo” – moments before the volunteer drivers come rolling in.

At the event dispatch desk, volunteers Keira Vaughn and Bruce Chirre help East Precinct Administrative Manager Karen Lavoie make sure all the drivers get appropriate delivery information.

“This year, we are delivering to 630 families – the most we’ve ever delivered to,” smiled the project’s local coordinator, East Precinct Administrative Manager Karen Lavoie.

“We’re one of two police precincts involved with this today, and our drivers are delivering to both outer Northeast and Southeast Portland families,” Lavoie told East Portland News

Loaded, and ready to deliver to 10 families, is Larry Keller and family.

Two lines of vehicles stop in the garage, to be loaded with as many food boxes as each volunteer driver can deliver.

“We’ve got a whole bunch of cadets here to help out loading up the cars,” Lavoie pointed out. “And a lot of our law enforcement officers, who are not working shifts, are also coming by to pick up boxes and deliver them.

“It’s so great to be able to help the community by providing a really good meal during the Holidays; our volunteers say it really warms their hearts as well,” Lavoie said.

Back for her second season, volunteer driver, and Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbor, Mary Sumaray gets instructions from perennial volunteer Rebecca Gallagher.

For unknown reasons, the Sunshine Division website closed off sign-ups for volunteer drivers long before delivery day. With a shortage of drivers, Cadets began loading up unused PPB cars, vans, and trucks with Holiday food boxes, and started driving delivery routes themselves – making sure every box was delivered.

PPB Cadets Jenny Pham, Melissa Hernandez, and Erika Gonzales prepare to load another car with food boxes.

The Holiday food box program is supported by food and funding donations via Albertsons and Safeway stores, the Safeway Foundation, the Oregon Community Foundation, the Eddie Wilson Fund, Botsford & Sons Produce, Ventura Foods, Bob’s Red Mill, and Franz Bakery – along with additional individual, foundation, and corporate food gifts and funding to support this 97-year program and Portland tradition.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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