Volunteer drivers help Police Sunshine Division deliver cheer to neighbors in need

The morning started off well with a rush of driving volunteers. But find out what happened after they loaded up all the vehicles – and still had almost 100 food boxes that needed to be delivered …

Volunteer drivers wait to be loaded with PPB Sunshine Division boxes in front of East Precinct.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It’s been a tradition in outer East Portland, on the Saturday before Christmas, for volunteers to help the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) “Sunshine Division” deliver holiday food boxes for needy families.

In the pre-dawn hours of December 19, the line of vehicles outside PPB East Precinct on SE 106th Avenue was a good sign that all of the 464 boxes would be promptly delivered.

As Sunshine Delivery volunteer driver Brien Morris checks in, he tells East Precinct Cadet José Perez, “We do this because it makes us feel good.” Perez agrees, “This is a great community event!”

Event organizer Karen Lavoie checks out lists and maps to be given to volunteer drivers.

“We have about 25 volunteers here this morning, including East Precinct Cadets,” remarked the event’s organizer, Karen Lavoie, administrator supervisor at East Precinct, as she readied maps and delivery instructions for the volunteer drivers. “This project is important, because it shows how we care about the community; it shows that we’re there for them, and wanting to help them.”

East Precinct Captain Bill Walker loads food in the boxes, preparing them for delivery.

East Precinct Cadets Deaniil Svirzhevsky and Veronica Banda race to finish loading food boxes with ingredients for complete Holiday dinners.

Nick Crebs, and his dad, former Commander of East Precinct (now Commander of the bureau’s Detective Division) Michael Crebs, load up their SUV for their delivery run.

Under the direction of the Cadet Program mentor, Officer Michael Gallagher, the East Precinct Cadets loaded all of the cars, trucks, and SUVs queued up on the street. Once loaded with Sunshine Division food boxes; the drivers were given maps and delivery instructions for all the food boxes, and sent on their way.

Too few volunteer drivers – and lots of boxes – meant that both cops and cadets needed to develop a new plan to get this food to hungry families.

However, after the lineup of delivery drivers were dispatched, there were still nearly 100 boxes to be delivered. Not to be stumped by the dilemma, the Cadets were issued idle patrol cars, undercover vehicles – and also used their personal cars – to make deliveries.

“Patrol officers also drove through, picked up a few boxes, and returned to their districts to continue their patrol – and drop off food boxes,” Gallagher told us. “In the end, we made sure that every needy family received their food box that morning.”

East Precinct Officer Michael Gallagher remains cheerful as he and the Police Cadets come up with a plan to deliver the remaining 100 food boxes.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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