ELFF stands for Everyone Loves a Fire Fighter and that must be true because, now in its 31st year, this is the biggest local food drive of the year.
The ELFF canned food drive is always on the first Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of December. The collections happen from 6 to 9 p.m. in different zones on different days: east The Dalles Tuesday, west The Dalles Wednesday and Dallesport Thursday.
The Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue Volunteer Association teams up with the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul to help stock local food pantries in anticipation of providing food baskets for those in need.
Years past the drive reaped more than 28,000 units of food, covered 632 miles, and involved 172 ELFF collectors and 29 drivers — not to mention uncounted local residents who willingly raid their own pantries to fill bags with food for the hungry. Without a doubt, it is an impressive effort to help alleviate hunger and a strong illustration of “Charity begins at home.”
With such a display of generosity, you’d think pantries would be well-stocked throughout the year, but the reality is that food insecurity continues to grow. In Wasco, Sherman and Hood River counties, Mid-Columbia Community Action served more than 650 households with a total of 1,955 individuals a month in 2006. By 2012, those figures had climbed to more than 1,000 households and 3,150 individuals a month, a 38 percent increase.
The bottom line here, is that our communities include many residents who might go hungry without help from local food pantries and other feeding programs like Community Meal and Bread and Blessings. These programs are an important expression of compassion for those in need within our community.
You’ll not only be helping local folks eat better during the holidays and beyond, you’ll also be helping our area earn the name of community.