PUNXSUTAWNEY — Members of the Punxsutawney Fire Department will have their boots in hand from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this weekend at major intersections throughout town, collecting donations for area food banks.
Boot drive locations are in front of the Lindsey Fire Hall, West Mahoning; Central Fire Hall, East Mahoning, Hampton Avenue and Front Street intersection; and Elk Run Fire Company; at the intersection of Elk Run and Graffius avenues.
This weekend also marks the 28th anniversary of the Punxsutawney Fire Department’s annual food drive, which was established in 1983 by William Zimmerman, with Central members Bob Hockinson and Warren Kellert.
Tami McFarland, fire department vice-president, said the need remains the same as it did in 1983.
“I think it’s the best fund-raiser that the fire department does for our community,” she said, because it helps so many people not just around the holidays, but throughout the year.
“I don’t think our community realizes how bad off some people are financially and they truly need the food that we give them,” McFarland said. “I want to challenge all the people who will be out shopping or hunting, for each motorist that drives past our volunteers: If they would donate a dollar to the foot drive, there would be plenty of food to donate to individuals and area food banks.”
McFarland said every year, the department receives a list of families in need at this time of year. Members then prepare food baskets for families on the list.
“We purchase everything through the Comet Market and put the food baskets together, ready for distribution,” she said. “If anyone is aware of someone in need, contact any firefighter, and we’ll make sure they receive a donation of a food basket.”
Non-perishable food items may be dropped off at any of the three fire halls.
Leftover funds are then donated to the local food banks.
The eight area food banks in the Punxsutawney area are the Salvation Army; St. Vincent DePaul Society (SS.C.D.); Woodland Avenue United Methodist Church (Crosstown Ministries); Big Run Christian Church; Church of the Nazarene; First Church of God; Christian Missionary Alliance Church; and Chestnut Grove Independent Church.
Last year, firefighters raised $7,102 during the drive.