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Volunteers pitch in for food drive

 

November 14, 2013

Lindsay Brown

Volunteers check expiration dates on donations Wednesday evening at the Van Orsdel United Methodist Church during the Havre Fire Department's ELF drive - Everybody Loves Firefighters.

As the first batch of food collected at the annual ELF food drive arrived at Van Orsdel United Methodist Church Wednesday night, the crowd of about 40 people sprung into action.

The volunteers - many of them youth from Van Orsdel and First Lutheran churches - had been sitting, waiting patiently for the food to come.

Havre firefighters and volunteers had traveled through the east side, lights flashing and sirens blowing, collecting food that people had left on their porches.

The ELF drive - Everybody Loves Firefighters - is the Havre Food Bank's biggest drive of the year. Last year, 3.5 tons of food was collected, and food bank director Lorna Bjerga said they hope for more this year.

When summoned to action, the volunteers stood on both sides of tables and sorted the food as it was moved in an assembly-line manner.

The volunteers quickly sorted the food into different categories before it was placed in about 100 basket-like containers marked for different food categories - ketchup, pasta, canned meats, and so forth.

When the containers were filled with food, they were packed into cars and other volunteers headed over to the food bank headquarters on the north side.

This morning, Bjerga said, the staff will sort the food further.

"It will be a mess for a while, but it will be worth it," she said.

Tonight, the process will resume, as firefighters will traverse the area west of 5th Avenue.

In addition to providing food for the poor, the volunteer work provides valuable lessons for the young people taking part, said the church leaders.

Sheila Neuwerth, a Sunday School teacher at Van Orsdel, said her students enjoy the volunteer work.

"They look forward to it every year," she said.

"Our focus this year to learn about service to God," she said. "So, this is fitting we are being of service to our community."

Tammi Barkus and her class from First Lutheran Church were involved in the volunteer work, some sort the food, others go out with firefighters collecting food.

"We're doing this so people will have food," said Alex Barkus, one of the volunteers.

Havre firefighters will go through the area west of 5th Avenue tonight collecting food that people have left on their porches. They will be out 6 to 9 p.m. People are asked to have donations ready and in bags or boxes.

 

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