SOUTH PORTLAND – The smell of freshly cooked bacon hung in the air at the Cash Corner Fire Hall on Saturday morning as firefighters gathered shortly after the start of a new 24-hour shift.
In the center of the kitchen was a table filled with fruit, muffins, egg casseroles, pancakes, granola, yogurt, and other breakfast foods – an elaborate spread that came as a surprise. and to the delight of those who worked on Christmas Day.
“We had no idea,” said Lt. Seth Hagar of the South Portland Fire Department. “There have been a few small notifications on social media, but it was not expected. It was very short notice and it was unexpected. It was a pleasant surprise for sure.
Christmas Day Brunch was hosted by two members of the South Portland community who gathered others to cook and deliver hot meals and treats to first responders working during the holidays. In addition to the fire department, the volunteers also prepared food for the police department and regional dispatchers and prepared snacks for the city’s bus drivers.
“People were really excited and wanted a way to show their appreciation to our first responders and our bus drivers,” said Sari Greene, 64, co-host of the brunch and head of the South Portland Community of Kindness Facebook group. . “It’s been a tough year for them and it was just a way to say thank you.”
More than 50 people were involved in the preparation and delivery of not only the brunch and snacks, but also the Christmas Eve dinner to the city’s first responders, Greene said. She said co-organizer Cristin French initially gave her the idea and from there Greene contacted the city to get clearance and make contact with the various departments.
French, who previously lived in Virginia, said her community there was doing something similar and was inspired to bring the idea to South Portland while recovering from COVID-19 recently.
“I’m not a good person to sit still and do nothing,” French, 56, said. “It’s not my style, so I had to find something to occupy my time.”
The women shared the idea in various local Facebook groups, including Greene’s Community of Kindness group, and then used an online app called Meal Train to organize who would bring what to each location.
At the central fire station, snow was falling and roads became slippery as residents flocked to the station with trays of food on Saturday. Michelle Horton and her son Alex, in pajamas and Santa hats, brought a casserole of eggs and cinnamon buns. They also brought macaroni and cheese and rolls on Christmas Eve.
“They have to work while on vacation and we have the privilege of having a safe vacation with our families while they are here making sure everyone stays safe as well,” said Horton.
Joyce Fehl, who started working with Greene on an initiative called SoPo Cooks! months ago to feed families in need during the coronavirus pandemic, said she was touched by the idea of feeding first responders during the holidays as well.
On Saturday, she brought French toast, sausage, and a 30-second dance party, a plastic button that, when pressed, plays a song for 30 seconds. “I have a friend who is a first responder and anything you can do, especially at Christmas (is helpful),” Fehl said.
It was a calm morning at Central Station on Saturday, but Captain Jon Martin said it wasn’t on Christmas Eve, and he and his team were grateful for the support.
“There aren’t a lot of community supported jobs and South Portland is a big community,” Martin said. “We are very lucky. Many other cities are probably not that close to each other. We are lucky in that regard.
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