By Alan Sorensen
The ELF (Everyone Loves a Firefighter) Food Drive was cut short last night when fire broke out at an apartment at Oakwood Village, but organizers said this morning that the donations were still substantial.
"We had a really good turnout last night," Cyndi Murphy of the North Havre Community Services Food Bank said. "We had lots of volunteers show up. Unfortunately, the firemen were called away on a fire, so we didn't get to all of the south end and Highland Park."
Murphy said the food collections totaled about 1,600 pounds and Debbie Williams of the Salvation Army said more than 1,500 items were collected. Murphy said the two figures were for the same donations that were taken to the Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen for counting as they were collected.
"The Salvation Army counts items and the food bank counts pounds," Murphy said. "They do inventory by item and we do inventory by weight."
Murphy said the food drive, including fire trucks and ambulances, will travel the community again tonight in search of nonperishable food items for the less fortunate.
"What we're going to do tonight is hit the east end and the downtown area, and then, time and no emergencies permitting, they'll pick up where they left off last night," Murphy said.
The drive will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and volunteers are welcome.
"We can always use volunteers," Murphy said. "It would be nice if a couple people with pickup trucks would follow them around and take the food back to the soup kitchen."
Last night's volunteers included members of the Havre High School Key Club, MSU-Northern Skylights basketball team, other Northern students and some youngsters. Tonight's volunteers are expected to include church youth groups and college students.
"Tonight the church youth groups are scheduled to help," Murphy said. "We know the Assembly of God is coming, and we may get some from the Catholic Church and Lutheran Church. There's supposed to be a bunch of students coming from the college, too."
Anyone who would like to volunteer can do so by showing up at the Havre Fire Department at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fourth Street between 5:45 and 6 p.m. today.
"They can just show up, sign up and get their badges," Murphy said. "We had five trucks out last night, and we're hoping to have the same amount tonight."