By Alan Sorensen
Despite a shortened route Tuesday because of an east Havre apartment fire, the two-day 2000 ELF food drive was a record breaker.
"We had 4,276 items which weighed in at 4,803 pounds, and that's a record," said Cyndi Murphy, director of the North Havre Community Services Food Bank. "That's the most we ever collected."
The ELF (Everyone Loves a Firefighter) food drive has been a community staple for the poor for several years. Firefighters, with the approval of the city council, drive fire trucks and ambulances around town along with volunteers and collect nonperishable food items. The donations are divided evenly between The Salvation Army and the food bank.
"We split it 50/50," Murphy said. "When we're sorting at the Soup Kitchen, we go, one can for you and one can for me,' so it's even."
Once the items are divided at Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen, they are taken to The Salvation Army basement storage or to the food bank.
"We appreciate (Soup Kitchen personnel) allowing us to do it there," Murphy said.
She also had praise and thanks for everyone who helped this year. Tuesday's volunteers included members of the Havre High School Key Club, MSU-Northern Skylights basketball team, other Northern students and some younger children.
"We want to thank the firemen for all their support, plus the groups that came out and helped up," Murphy said. "In addition to the groups I mentioned before, we had the VFW, Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary, Assembly of God Youth Group, Boy Scouts and the community service class from the college. I think that's all the groups."
Murphy noted that the Assembly of God youths were driven around town in the church's bus. "There's like 30, 40 of them that come out and do that every year."
Firefighters found time Wednesday night to back track and hit several of the homes they were forced to miss when they responded to the residential fire Tuesday. She said firefighters are already discussing their routes for next year and possible additions to the area covered by the drive.
"They're looking forward to doing it again next and that would be wonderful," Murphy said. "They're going to look at expanding their route to include the Northside next year with enough elves."