Nearly 250 cars participated in the second Cruise for Care in Port Alberni on Friday, May 29, 2020. The parade of cars cruised past seniors’ care homes in the city to recognize frontline workers for their efforts through the coronavirus pandemic. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Nearly 250 cars participated in the second Cruise for Care in Port Alberni on Friday, May 29, 2020. The parade of cars cruised past seniors’ care homes in the city to recognize frontline workers for their efforts through the coronavirus pandemic. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Final Cruise for Care doubles as food drive for Port Alberni

Emergency personnel will don PPE and collect food from drivers

One last Cruise for Care is planned for Port Alberni, and this time first responders will be teaming up to help organize a food drive for the COVID-19 Community Response team.

The first Cruise for Care, organized by Angela Mallory and Ron Lightfoot, saw 150 cars parading through the city to salute frontline and health-care workers. At least 250 joined the second cruise.

WATCH: Port Alberni’s Cruise for Care draws 150 cars

The third is scheduled for Friday, June 19 and will start at the Alberni Athletic Hall. Cars will line up at 6:15 p.m. and will depart at 6:30 p.m.

This time, emergency first responders—including volunteer fire departments, ambulance crews and search and rescue crews—will be joining the cruise by donning PPE and collecting non-perishable food items to donate to the Salvation Army and the Alberni COVID-19 Community Response Team.

“Everyone I’ve talked to is blown away by how much the Salvation Army is actually doing,” explained Deb Roberts, a B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic. “We wanted to do something to help out.”

The Salvation Army—with help from other organizations like the Bread of Life, Canadian Mental Health Association and the Port Alberni Shelter Society—has been providing daily meal services for the community’s homeless and low income residents during the coronavirus pandemic. The team is feeding hundreds of people per day, and is up over 32,000 meals served since the pandemic hit.

“We just really want to help build up their pantry,” said Roberts.

Back in March, emergency vehicles started weekly “siren-ades” outside of West Coast General Hospital (WCGH) to thank frontline workers for keeping patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We started out just doing the hospital, but it turned into community drive-bys,” said Roberts. “We tried to hit up all the nursing homes and businesses that had stayed open.”

They even visited a few retirement celebrations and birthday parties, said Roberts. The very last frontline worker appreciation parade took place on May 23, as rules started to relax and businesses started to re-open.

On Friday, first responders will be teaming up once again to grab food and load it into a Salvation Army truck.

“We’re looking for things like canned goods, pasta, rice,” explained Roberts. “Things that people can use to make a healthy meal.”

All vehicles are welcome in the Cruise for Care on Friday—everything from muscle cars to motorcycles to minivans. At 6:15 p.m., drivers are asked to enter the Athletic Hall parking lot through the Roger Street entrance. Cars will depart the Athletic Hall via the North Island College roadway, turn right onto Roger Street, take a left onto Stamp Avenue, drive around the Harbour Quay loop and back up Argyle Street, then turn left onto 10th Avenue and return to the Athletic Hall, where cars will disperse. ACE Flagging will there to control traffic throughout the cruise.

Drivers are being asked to bring non-perishable items to donate. Those who aren’t planning to take part in the cruise are still invited to drop donations off at the Athletic Hall, said Roberts.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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