Firefighters in northern Marion County are fighting hunger
Woodburn firefighters were out in force Saturday as sirens were heard and engines seen in every neighborhood in town.
In fact, Woodburn Fire District personnel were so busy, they needed a legion of volunteers to help, including hands on deck from Woodburn Public Works, North Marion Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), local Scouts and the public at large.
The bustle was triggered by the 29th Annual Food Drive, and it spread to neighboring communities as personnel were deployed from Hubbard, Aurora, Donald, Gervais and surrounding areas. Within Woodburn nine distinct crews worked the neighborhoods.
"It's all going down right now," said Woodburn firefighter Dan Agee, who was directing a crew around the Woodburn Estates & Golf neighborhood. "Everyone is out and people are giving us a lot of food — so it's going well."
A moment later a car pulled up behind several firefighters and volunteers to flag them down and help unload a box full of food from its trunk.
"People are actually chasing us down out here," Agee added.
Meanwhile, another legion of volunteers assembled to the tune of 75 hands on deck at St. Luke Catholic Church, where truckloads of food rolled in and the crews descended on them immediately to unload the beds and cart and sort the goods.
Elaine Saucedo was among the on-site organizers at the church. She said this end of the duties will ultimately come to fruition around Dec. 15 when families receive food boxes.
Agee said all the goods stay local, and he estimated that more than 120 families in northern Marion County will receive food box aid during the holiday season.
"There are a lot of people out here today donating their time," Agee said.
In addition to food, volunteers collected new, unwrapped toys and cash donations, all designated to help local families in need. Donations go to Love Santa Inc. and St. Vincent De Paul Society.
Drive director James Audritsh, a Woodburn firefighter and Love Santa board member, was delighted with the effort, indicating that it could be an unprecedented success.
"I want to thank the many groups, individuals and departments that were involved in one of the best food drives ever," Audritsh said. "Our calculations show we collectively collected around 11,000 pounds of nonperishable food items and around $300 in monetary donations. This total was from what was collected in Woodburn, Hubbard, Gervais, Aurora and Donald areas."
Audritsh noted that St. Vincent DePaul's holiday assistance program will administer the collected food, and food collected in the Hubbard, Aurora, Donald and Gervais areas will be distributed in their respective communities.
"It was truly an awesome sight to see so many people coming together for this worthwhile cause," Audritsh said. "The joy, laughter, excitement, and camaraderie that comes with a job well done was more than evident throughout the day on Saturday. We couldn't have been any luckier here that the rain held off and it wasn't super cold.
"We got the job done."
Want to donate?
Anyone who didn't get a chance to chip into the cause Saturday can still do so at at Dollar General in Hubbard, White Rabbit in Aurora, Donald Cafe, Hubbard Chevrolet or Les Schwab in Woodburn through Dec. 7. Hubbard Love Santa's distribution day will be Dec. 8.
Donations for Love Santa Woodburn and St. Vincent De Paul Society can be dropped off through Dec. 14 at the Woodburn Independent, Woodburn City Hall, Webb Chiropractic and Long Bros. Building Supply. Woodburn's distribution day will be Dec. 15.