For thousands of families across St. Charles County, the holidays are a happy time filled with parties, pageants and packages. However, others have a difficult time getting into the holiday spirit, because they’re among the millions of Americans facing hunger.
Last week, residents at retirement facilities partnered with St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] Paramedics to ensure that local pantry shelves are fully stocked for those in need.
The initiative, known as “Fill the Ambulance with Food,” began eight years ago. This year, three new senior living communities joined the program, bringing the total number of those participating to 11. Collectively, the seniors provide a big impact for local food pantries.
“In addition to growing in terms of the 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!” exclaimed Judy Coyman, director of community relations for Operation Food Search [OFS]. The St. Louis-based hunger relief nonprofit 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, Dec. 13, SCCAD Paramedics and OFS representatives canvassed the county, collecting the donations.
“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.”
Since its inception, Fill the Ambulance has collected more than five tons of nonperishable 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.