Susan McDaniel Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre Fire Department had a full crew of ELFs working Tuesday night. The firefighters/ EMTs were ready to hit the streets. ELF coordinator Ken Hanson welcomed volunteers and made everyone comfortable. With three ambulances, three fire trucks and a chase car all with lights flashing and sirens howling the ELF volunteers spread out over the east side of Havre gathering donations for this years ELF (Everyone Loves Firefighters) Drive. “We want to thank the mayor and the chief for letting us use the trucks,” Hanson said. Following behind the city vehicles were various pickups and vans carrying volunteers. The volunteer turnout was tremendous. Along with community members donating time for a good cause, larger groups from Montana State University- Northern, the Girl Scouts and 4- H provided much needed assistance. Seventy-seven volunteers signed in to participate Tuesday night. “This community is very supportive of it throughout the years,” Havre Food Bank manager Maggie Doll said. The last few years have set records for the amount of food donated by Havre residents, and Doll hopes for another record this year. “I just hope there’s more food than we got last year, and that was a huge amount,” said Doll. The food bank will be helped this year with a strong effort from Northern students and AmeriCorps volunteers. AmeriCorps is a campus-based organization whose goal is to connect students with community in volunteer opportunities. They have four parttime members and one full-time team leader. AmeriCorps has five members, including team leader Rikki Sorensen, two who volunteer at the food bank, two who work with the Boys & Girls Club and one who works with the energy program at HRDC. AmeriCorps members worked hard to recruit other volunteers. “I really beat the bushes this year,” team leader Sorensen said of her recruiting efforts. Setting challenges for the MSU-N sports teams between each other to provide the most volunteers and many hours spent on the telephone ensured a good volunteer turnout. Members of the wrestling team, men’s basketball and volleyball teams made commitments to help. The whole Skylights women’s basketball team were among Tuesday night’s volunteers. “She has done an amazing job this Year,” Katherine Williams, MSUN Community Service instructor and the local AmeriCorps coordinator, said. “She’s done a big part of getting the volunteers going.” Other AmeriCorps volunteers Tuesday night were Emily Vaughn and her niece Natasha Peck, who planned to work both nights of the drive. In addition, senior Gerri Seymour, along with husband, Jeff, and daughter, Desarae, proved that volunteering can be a family affair. Seymour also is involved with a campus club called the C.I.A. Community Involvement Association which had other members present. Thirteen girls from Girl Scout Troop 202 with leaders Judy Hembd and Janet Crowder and many parents were among the volunteers. The girls were working toward earning a community service badge. There are 22 girls in Troop 202 this year. “We have over half our girls here tonight and others will be coming tomorrow with parents,” Crowder said. Rob Gaskill was among a number of MSU-N students who volunteered after hearing of the need in a community service class taught by Williams. “It’s a good cause,” Gaskill said. At St. Jude’s Parish Center, tables are marked with signs left over from last year’s drive for sorting individual types of foods. Waiting for the first food arrivals were the Bullhook Buffalos 4-H group. “We have 13 kids and parent volunteers tonight,” leader Heidi Kinsella said. Pastoral Associate Tim Maloney helped volunteers get settled and showed them how the coffee pot worked. The lights and sirens will be out again tonight, this time on the west side of Fifth Avenue. Because this is traditionally a night when families participate in church activities, there was some concern that the collections would not be as large as last night’s. “If people won’t be at home during the collection times, it would really help if they could put their donations in plastic bags tied to front door knobs,” Doll said. Many of last night’s volunteers have plans to come again tonight. “Tonight the Lights basketball team and the Skylights volleyball players will be among the volunteers,” Sorensen said. “Please join us.” “The people in this town are amazing,” Social Services director Trina Crawford of the Havre Salvation Army said.