Volunteers help police deliver big boxes of Holiday ‘Sunshine’

Take a look at a heart-warming story that took place on a dark, wintery day …

Outside Portland Police Bureau East Precinct, volunteers are lining up to have their vehicles loaded with Sunshine Division food boxes they’ll be delivering.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On the wet, dreary-looking Saturday morning of December 20, dozens of cars, trucks and SUVs snaked around the Floyd Light Middle School, waiting to participate in Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Sunshine Division’s 91st anniversary of delivering Holiday meals to those in need.

As in past years, the PPB East Precinct Cadets turned out to help.

Gathered for their annual “Sunshine Division Day Team Photo” are members of the East Precinct Police Cadets.

First, because of confusion about the starting time, the Cadets had to inform drivers who arrived at the traditional start time that it had been shifted to an hour later, at 9:00 a.m. – and then they brought them doughnuts and coffee while they patiently waited. Then, inside the precinct garage, the Cadets loaded one vehicle after another with food boxes.

Again this year, the volunteer drivers were directed into East Precinct’s “Sally Port” – typically the entrance to the police station’s secure, controlled entryway. Inside, other volunteers gave the drivers maps and directions to each location where one of the 45-pound food boxes was to be delivered.

Each with a Sunshine Division food box in hand, Portland Police East Precinct Cadets Josh Dyk and Mckenzie Pitts flank Commander Sara Westbrook.

At one of her last public outer East Portland events as PPB East Precinct Commander, before taking over the same role at Central Precinct, Sara Westbrook was on hand, helping the Cadets load drivers’ vehicles with food boxes.

“This annual event is so important for us, because there are people in our community who are in need of food,” Westbrook told East Portland News. “It is the Holiday Season, and it’s the time that we want to make sure that everyone has a Christmas dinner.”

Volunteers Bob Lavoie and Joyce Lavoie prepare map card packs for drivers.

Volunteer driver Karrie Bowen gets her map and instruction packet from a Cadet before heading out to make deliveries.

In the mid-County area, Westbrook added, “residents have the lowest level of incomes of anyone, countywide. Many people who are having financial difficulty live in our precinct. The whole reason behind the Sunshine Division is to be able to help our community, and let them know we truly care about them.”

And about the Portland Police East Precinct Cadets, Westbrook said, “We love these young people and their great volunteer spirit; this Cadet program is the finest! Officer Mike Gallagher, who’s been leading them for years, is one of the finest human beings on the planet.”

Cadets hustle, loading one vehicle after another, with Sunshine Division food boxes.

In the shelter of the East Precinct parking garage, Cadets first determined how many deliveries each volunteer wished to make. Then, they assembled the appropriate number of food boxes for each volunteer.

Many of these drivers were community members – such as Karrie Bowen, who said, “I do this because we like to give back a little, especially at Christmas time.”

By midmorning, most of the some 900 food boxes destined for needy families were on their way, loaded with Christmas cheer in the form of a complete dinner, including a whole turkey and all the trimmings.

PPB Sgt. Jeremy Price poses with his family, before heading out to deliver food boxes.

PPB Central Precinct Sgt. Jeremy Price was also in line, waiting for his car to be filled with food boxes. “We’ve been doing this, as a family, now for about eight years. It’s a way I can give back to the community.

“And, more than that, my family says doing this helps us all remember what the Christmas spirit is all about.”

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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