Despite the recession causing hard times for everyone, people reached deep to help others in need during last week’s Everybody Loves Firefighters food drive.
Penny Velk, director of Havre Food Bank, said the collection by Havre firefighters and other volunteers netted 10,041 pounds of food, the most ever for the ELF drive.
Havre firefighter Cody McLain, who helped coordinate the drive with Velk, said this morning that the success of the drive was “awesome.”
“I have never seen that much food in my life,” McLain added.
He said various groups including church youth groups, the Students United for New Successes alternative high school, and Montana State University-Northern groups including students from business classes and representatives from college athletic teams helped collect the food, and transport it to the food bank. Some 60 to 70 volunteers helped the firefighters with the drive.
The firefighters and their helpers drove around in three fire engines and three ambulances and a Havre Fire Department car with emergency lights flashing in Havre on the east side of 5th Avenue Wednesday, knocking on doors and collecting food given to them or left outside in anticipation of the ELF visit.
About 12 firefighters worked the drive each night, McLain said.
The drive went to the west side of 5th Avenue Thursday.
The food was dropped off at the Van Orsdel Methodist Church for sorting before it was taken to the food bank.
The record amount of food is expected to help the food bank get through the holiday season, Velk said in an interview last week. While the Stamp Out Hunger food drive held by postal workers helps the food bank get through the summer, the ELF drive is one of the keys to getting through the first part of winter.
Communities around the country have reported record numbers of new people coming in for help through services like food banks.
The drive typically brings in 7,000 pounds to 8,000 pounds of food to help get the bank through the holiday season, with about 8,000 pounds collected last year.
McLain said he and the others from the drive are thankful for the people of Havre giving so much, topping last year’s collection by some 25 percent, to help people through the season.
“It was just great to see everybody giving that much food,” he said.