Community drive replenishes Bristol food bank

Bristol firefighters and members of the Bristol Rotary Club form a line to carry the boxes of donated food into the Bristol Good Neighbors Soup Kitchen. Bristol firefighters and members of the Bristol Rotary Club form a line to carry the boxes of donated food into the Bristol Good Neighbors Soup Kitchen.

Bristol firefighters and members of the Bristol Rotary Club form a line to carry the boxes of donated food into the Bristol Good Neighbors Soup Kitchen.

Bristol firefighters and members of the Bristol Rotary Club form a line to carry the boxes of donated food into the Bristol Good Neighbors Soup Kitchen.

Sirens were wailing loudly as Bristol fire trucks drove up and down neighborhoods east of Metacom Avenue Sunday.

There was no fire. No emergency.

Rather, these fire trucks, and firefighters were collecting food left out by residents for the Bristol Good Neighbors Soup Kitchen and Pantry Jan. 26. A week prior, bags and letters about the food drive were left on mailboxes, soliciting the community’s participation.

Dozens of volunteers sort and pack the food collected at Bank Newport Sunday.

Dozens of volunteers sort and pack the food collected at Bank Newport Sunday.

The food drive was a joint effort between the Bristol Volunteer Fire Department and the Bristol Rotary Club.

“The Rotary Club had started this, and got the fire department involved because of all the bodies needed to get this done,” said Chris Woodard, president of the Bristol Rotary Club. “It’s a real community effort.”

Those who weren’t able to leave non-perishable items on their doorstep were invited to drop off their donations at Bank Newport on Gooding Avenue. There, dozens of volunteers sorted and packed the food for delivery to the soup kitchen later that afternoon.

In all, 4,903 pounds of food was collected, the highest amount the effort has ever garnered in its 20-plus years, Mr. Woodard said.

Residents shield their ears from the wailing sirens of the fire truck after giving a bag full of donated food to a firefighter for the food drive.

Residents shield their ears from the wailing sirens of the fire truck after giving a bag full of donated food to a firefighter for the food drive.

“Seeing the love and support the residents of Bristol have for their neighbors is something you would only find in this community,” said Ann Wiard, executive director of Bristol Good Neighbors. “We greatly appreciate their continued generosity.”

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