Stuff the Ambulance events exceed amount collected last year

By Julie Clements
Butler County Times Gazette – November 30, 2015

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Photos by Julie Clements. Members of EMS and emergency services unload two ambulances of donated items at the Salvation Army Wednesday.

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EMS Captain Josh Whiteside presents Salvation Army Lt. Julie Tamayo with a check for $1,170.

Each year, the Butler County EMS sets the goal of raising more items and money through their Stuff the Ambulance campaign, and they once again met that goal.
The EMS and emergency services staff unloaded two “stuffed” ambulances Wednesday at the Salvation Army in El Dorado.
They had collected a total of 4,740 pounds of food, as well as $1,270. Last year they had collected just one ambulance full of food and $1,100.
“Last year we had a good turnout and it is even better this year,” said EMS Captain Josh Whiteside.
“This is a very good Thanksgiving blessing,” said Lt. Julie Tamayo, with the El Dorado Salvation Army.
The next step is for the fire department members to pack food boxes on Dec 15. These boxes will include gravy, fruit, jello, stuffing, green beans and corn.
Then Numana will host the distribution at their building, where there also will be a gift wrapping station set up this year, for which they also need volunteers. There also will be a “free” table, where people can choose from used items and toys that have been donated, in addition to the new toys that will be distributed.
But before the distribution, they need volunteers to come in and sort the items. People can volunteer for this by calling Tamayo at 316-889-3751.
Looking at the needs that remain, Tamayo said they are short on teen toys and infant toys, as well as instant potatoes.
“Everything else fills in so fast and that is great to see,” she said.
She said if they get these extra things that will fill in the gaps that will allow them to give each person four toys this year, which is her goal.
Those wanting to sign up for assistance have through Monday to do so. People can stop by the Salvation Army from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday. They don’t need to bring any paperwork with them.
Tamayo said she has seen a shift in who they are serving this year, which also happened at the back-to-school event.
Ninety-nine percent of the people are new to receiving assistance from the Salvation Army.
“The economic decline has hit our area,” she said. “Most people’s attitudes who come in are not of entitlement but of shame. It’s hard to ask for help when you don’t usually have to ask.”
She said they have had people sit in their office and cry.
“We have been able to pray with some people and been able to cry with some,” Tamayo said.
After the ambulances were unloaded, EMS Director Chad Pore recognized the crew that helped them unload.
“We’re hoping to top this in the future as well,” he said. “We did more this year than last year.”
He thanked everyone in the county who donated.
Whiteside also offered a special thank you to Dillons stores in El Dorado and Andover and Walmart stores in El Dorado and Augusta for allowing them to host the collections in front of the stores.

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