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Firehouse food drive benefits Have-a-Heart

THERE GOES BRISTOL Fire Department’s Carl Gile with another box of donated food.

BRISTOL — Fire departments in Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro collected more than 4,500 pounds of food and more than $3,000 for the Bristol Have-a-Heart Community Food Shelf last month.

The “Fill the Firehouse” food drive was started by (now retired) Chief Mark Bouvier of the Bristol Fire Department in 2008 and then expanded to the rest of the 5-Town area. It is typically held the last Saturday before Halloween. This year it was held on Oct. 23.

Fire stations in all five towns open simultaneously for the food drive, and together they typically collect several thousand dollars and pounds of food each year.

BRIAN WENDEL OF the Bristol Fire Department helps unload firefighter food drive goods at St. Ambrose, location of the Have-A-Heart Food Shelf, on Oct. 23.

“Firefighters do more than just fight fires,” noted Marcel Kimball of the New Haven Fire Department. “They also give back to the communities they serve — communities that support us when we need them.”

Kimball and his colleagues collected 599 pounds of food and $375 in donations this year, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.

The 2021 Fill the Firehouse recipient, the Bristol Have-A-Heart Community Food Shelf, is based at St. Ambrose Church on School Street. Folks there provide a community meal and packed bags for neighbors in need, usually one Friday a month. Signs in front of the church typically announce the date of the next food shelf.

Have-a-Heart was also the 2020 recipient of Fill the Firehouse donations.

“Have a Heart volunteers THANK all area firefighters for all their support with this food drive,” wrote Karen McEachen on Front Porch Forum last year. “It is so important to keep our food pantry filled especially during these trying times. YOU ROCK.”

Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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