By Cecilia Nasmith
Organizers of the Dec. 1 Pack The Back initiative thank the community for coming through in a big way.
St. John Ambulance branch administrator Amy Turcotte was inspired by the Cram The Cruiser events the Cobourg Police Service stage at holiday time that let people fill one of their police cars with donations of food and toys for those in need at Christmastime. With another kind of emergency-response vehicle, Turcotte hoped, people would pitch in again by packing donations into the back of their ambulances.
It was the first time they had tried such a thing, so she didn't know how it would work out – but she admitted she was very impressed and very happy with the results.
Even before the big day, Northumberland Paramedics came on board, adding one ambulance to the two that St. John Ambulance was allotting. In the end, with vehicles parked at Canadian Tire and David's No Frills, they collected an ambulance full of toys, two ambulances full of food, and donations totaling $2,800.
Paramedics and St. John Ambulance Medical First Responder volunteers took the bounty of the community to where it was needed – the toys to the Giving Tree program, the cash to the Salvation Army kettle-donation program and what she said looked like a couple thousand pounds of food to the Salvation Army Christmas-hamper headquarters.
The volunteers were all delighted, Turcotte reported, and they look forward to letting people Pack The Back again next year.