By Alan Sorensen
Area residents responded generously again this year when ELF volunteers traveled around town Tuesday and Wednesday gathering food for the needy. Nearly two tons of nonperishable food items were picked up during the two-night food drive.
ELF (Everyone Loves a Firefighter) is sponsored annually by Havre Firefighters Local #601 with tons of help from school and church youth groups. The groups traveled through Havre neighborhoods in fire trucks and ambulances and back-up trucks and vans for a couple of hours each evening.
"The kids are what really makes this happen," Firefighter Tim Hedges said. "Sure, we turn our lights on, ... but it's the kids who go door to door and really make this thing work."
Groups whose members volunteered their services included the Havre Middle School student council and Jr. HELPers, First Lutheran Church and Assembly of God youth groups, and Havre High School Key Club. Students from Kevin Brown's community service class at MSU-Northern also jumped in to lend a hand.
"And (thanks to) members of the community at large who came out and helped, too, as drivers and things for us," North Havre Community Services Food Bank Director Cyndi Murphy said.
Once it was collected, the food was taken to the Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen to be separated for equal distribution to The Salvation Army and the Food Bank. Much of the food will go into holiday food baskets that are handed out by the Community Christmas Committee. The remainder goes toward regular monthly allocations to the needy.
Murphy and volunteers at the Food Bank and The Salvation Army were busy this morning, too, sorting and inventorying the goods for later distribution.
"We got about 3,800 pounds, but we can always use more," Murphy said. "We split that, so I got 1,900 pounds, which is approximately a little under a month's worth of food."
She said the nearly one ton of food would go a long way toward filling the Christmas baskets with nonperishable items.
"I thank the town very much," Murphy said. "And with the sacrifice the firemen make fresh in our minds, we want them to know we appreciate the effort they make on our behalf."