Mountain View's bravest took time off last week to help some of the city's neediest.
For the fifth consecutive year, several members of the Mountain View Professional Firefighters Union Local 1965 met at the early on the Tuesday before Christmas and handed out extra food to local seniors. This supplementary food, which included proteins like turkey and the traditional holiday fixings, could go a long way for this under-resourced population.
"This may be their holiday meal," said Lora Mathis who coordinates the Brown Bag program for Second Harvest Food Bank that services 7000 members in 54 sites in Santa Clara County. "But it's more because they get to see people. It's great especially if they are living alone and have family long ways away."
The Brown Bag program comes to the senior center every Tuesday morning to provide fresh fruits and vegetable to about 400 members. This helps seniors over the age of 60–many in low-income situations and who "may be eating less"– get "more densely nutritious" food, Mathis explained.
However, the presence of the firefighters and their kids added something special to the weekly food distribution program. They "give back more than they already give every year and they are connecting with seniors who can depend on them," she said.
Voluntarily, the firefighters set aside a designated amount from each paycheck for charity and once a year, the firefighters use some of that money to purchase food.
"We provide a holiday meal that provides the proteins, which is more expensive for Second Harvest to purchase," said Mountain View Firefighter , who added that on Grant Road donated the bags and helped with the price.
Also on hand to help, were several children including Cody Wong, 5, and Freddie Juergens-Sanders, 8, both children of firefighters.
"I came to help so that they can get food and eat so that can be healthy," said Juergens-Sanders.
The diverse senior citizens at the center that morning expressed their gratitude for the extra food assistance and the presence of the extra volunteers.
"I come every week," said the 83-year-old Mexican Jose Mátias Barrigas Barrigas, chuckling as he explained that he had the same last name from both his mother and father. "This is how I maintain myself."
The 66-year-old Michael Blinder also explained that the meal would help him because "my social security supplemental income is not so high," he said.
Fire Chief Brad Wardle beamed with enthusiasm.
"This is a great experience," he said, with a brown bag on hand, "for the folks who are receiving and the kids and fold helping out."