PORT ANGELES — No smoke. No flames. No hoses and nary a nozzle.
The volunteers of Clallam County Fire District No. 2 will answer the call nonetheless.
They’ll send a fire engine to the Lincoln Street Safeway store from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday to collect non-perishable items and cash for the Port Angeles Food Bank.
Although nothing’s ablaze, the pantry for the needy has called in an alarm.
The food bank was able to budget only half its outlay for Thanksgiving 2015 than it provided in 2014, when it distributed 1,200 dinners.
Although last-minute corporate donors boosted the original 600 meals to 750, Executive Director Jessica Hernandez said “that was real hard for a lot of the community.
“The need was there, but the donations are down,” Hernandez said.
Fire District No. 2’s volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians and some full-time personnel will attend the truck, boost children into it, pose for pictures and try to fill the vehicle with food.
Cash also will be welcome, said Hernandez. Preferable, actually, because she can take the money to food retailers, say, “Hey, this is what my budget is” and — often with the help of the stores’ corporate headquarters — get some “fantastic” deals.
Still, she said, if donors want to assemble Christmas baskets or share favorite foods with strangers, that’s what they should do.
“If that’s what’s most meaningful in your heart,” Hernandez said, “by all means do that.”
As for the personnel of Fire District No. 2, who serve the area surrounding Port Angeles, “our volunteer firefighters see the need in our community to support those less fortunate,” said Chief Sam Phillips — especially when they learned of the Thanksgiving shortfall.
“This year, they asked to do something to help those in need and the idea was hatched to support the Port Angeles Food Bank.
“Families can meet the firefighters, sit in the fire engine, and take their photos with the fire crews, all while helping our local food bank.”
For their part, Hernandez said, the volunteers “are excited about interacting with the public.”
She blamed the agency’s plight on the lingering effects of the recession in Clallam County, where the recovery hasn’t found the traction it enjoys in more affluent areas.
“We’re having a hard time bouncing back,” she said.
Not only residents are keeping their belts cinched tight, Hernandez added. Corporate partners have reduced the excess food they formerly donated to charities.
The sparse contributions at Thanksgiving spurred the food bank board “to work really hard to find some extra money if we continue to see this lack of recovery from the recession,” she said.
Reporter James Casey can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at [email protected]