For thousands of families across our community, the holidays are a happy time; filled with parties, pageants and packages. Others, however, have a difficult time getting into the holiday spirit, because they’re among the millions of Americans facing hunger. This week, residents at retirement facilities will partner with St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] Paramedics to ensure that pantry shelves in their community are fully stocked for those in need.
The initiative is called ‘Fill the Ambulance with Food’, and it’s been going strong for eight years in St. Charles County. This year, three new senior living communities joined the program, bringing the total to 11. Collectively, the seniors make a big impact for local pantries.
“In addition to growing in terms of number of facilities, the quantity of donations at our long-standing partners seems to grow each year as well – this year, we collected 4,250 pounds of food!” said Judy Coyman, Director of Community Relations for Operation Food Search [OFS], a St. Louis-based hunger relief non-profit that helps SCCAD facilitate the drive each year. “We work with our partner food pantries in St. Charles County to ensure the seniors’ donations stay right in their community.”
On Wednesday, December 13, SCCAD Paramedics and OFS representatives canvassed the county, traveling to the 11 participating retirement communities to collect the donations seniors stockpiled over the last month.
“We’ve retained the ‘Fill the Ambulance’ name, but in reality, seniors’ support of this program outgrew a single ambulance several years ago,” said SCCAD Director of Community Relations Kyle Gaines. “Thankfully, the pantries are armed with a fleet of vans and trucks that can help get the donations onto pantries shelves, and ultimately, into the homes of individuals and families who need it.”
‘Fill the Ambulance’ was developed in 2010, and since its’ inception, has garnered more than five tons of non-perishable food donations. Retirement communities participating this year were: Twin Oaks at Heritage Pointe, Twin Oaks at Stone Ridge, Lakeridge Senior Apartments, Park Place Senior Living, Garden Villas of O’Fallon, Breeze Park, Lake St. Charles, River’s Edge, Windsor Estates of St. Charles, The Boulevard and Brookdale St. Peters.