Community

Firefighters, Santa collecting for Marysville food bank

From left, Marysville firefighter Tobin McGowan, aspiring firefighter Riley Ryan, Santa Claus and firefighter Tyler Beahan were among those collecting for the Marysville Community Food Bank outside the Marysville Safeway on Dec. 10. - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Marysville firefighter Tobin McGowan, aspiring firefighter Riley Ryan, Santa Claus and firefighter Tyler Beahan were among those collecting for the Marysville Community Food Bank outside the Marysville Safeway on Dec. 10.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Firefighters from the Marysville Fire District Local 3219 were joined by friends, family members and even Santa Claus at the front entrances of the Marysville Safeway from Dec. 9-11, as they dispensed multi-flavored candy canes in exchange for donations to the Marysville Community Food Bank.

Marysville firefighter Kelley Smith has helped collect for the Marysville Community Food Bank since the mid-1980s, while Marysville Fire Capt. Dan Schwartz began taking in donations for the Food Bank in the early 1990s. Both men recall sending their fire trucks out into Marysville neighborhoods each year, before the Marysville Fire District's increased call volumes and service areas compelled them to switch to soliciting cash and food from local grocery stores and supermarkets nearly a decade ago.

"This is actually our first holiday food drive without a fire truck," Schwartz said. "We're out of spare fire trucks, since they're all being used."

Schwartz and Smith agreed that the food drive collected more than $500 and several hundred pounds of food in its first night alone, while Schwartz estimated that the second night's totals were about the same. Although the third night's totals were still being totted up as of press time, Schwartz suspected that this year's three-night total might be slightly down from previous years' holiday food drives in front of the Safeway on State Avenue.

"Those first couple of nights were really cold," Schwartz said. "We also passed the boot around during the Electric Lights Parade on Saturday, [Dec. 7,] so maybe people did more of their giving on that night."

While Safeway shoppers and passersby continued to drop off food items and handfuls of cash through Dec. 11, a number of them actually declined the candy canes that were offered to them, although Schwartz reported that a majority of donors still nursed a sweet tooth for the holiday treats.

"More than a few of the adults have said, 'Oh, they're not for me, they're for my kids,' which is tough to verify," Schwartz laughed. "What I like best is seeing the little kids' faces, when you offer them a candy cane."

Schwartz and Smith both emphasized the value of supporting charities such as the Marysville Community Food Bank during the holiday season.

"There are so many unfortunate folks out there who don't even have enough to eat," Schwartz said. "You should try to help them out throughout the year, of course, but it becomes an even more pressing need during this season."

Smith explained that he and Marysville Fire Lt. Don McGee have spent the past month volunteering at the Marysville Community Food Bank during their off-duty hours.

"I've seen the huge impact that it has on the lives of the less fortunate in the Marysville community," Smith said. "Don and I spent four hours of one Friday volunteering at the Food Bank, and it's very important work that these people do."

"We just appreciate the support that the community has given our holiday food drives, year after year," Schwartz said. "I'm warmed by everyone's smiles and generosity."

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