Two Fire Departments Compete For The Most Canned Goods - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/20/07-Jacksonville

Two Fire Departments Compete For The Most Canned Goods

It was a friendly competition of sorts between two East Texas volunteer fire department but not to see who could put out the most fires, more importantly, which department could collect the most canned food. Thursday, the two departments put their competitive and generous spirit to the test, all in the name of helping others.

Fire truck to fire truck, the food challenge was on with New Summerfield Volunteer Fire Department on the left, North Cherokee on the right. It was a "food fight" in the name of Christmas, each one asking their community to donate as much cans as possible.

"We got a lot of people that are real giving in the community and we knew they'd come through," says Norvell Roberts, firefighter with North Cherokee VFD.

Thirty cases of food and $250 later, the winner...

"North Cherokee stomped us, hands down," laughs firefighter Melinda Hill with New Summerfield VFD.

Rivalry aside, together the two departments unloaded box by box and handed them over to the Manna Pantry at the HOPE Center in Jacksonville.

"We're so extremely grateful...we're dependent on them, it's just that simple especially when you get so low so they know we have a need and they jump right in," says HOPE Center Executive Director Fran Daniel.

The Center says just a few months ago, shelves were empty, but thanks to food drives like this one more than a 100 families a month are getting the food they need.

"It's been really a blessing because I would not have made it if I didn't have it and I just don't know what I'd do if I didn't have a place like this to come to," says one recipient Sherry Fanning.

It's a way to help others and have a little fun too, but worth every ounce especially for the bragging rights.

"It makes it worth it for sure seeing the faces how excited and how grateful they are makes it every bit worth it," Melinda says smiling.

This is the first year the fire departments participated in their "Canned Food Challenge," but they say they hope to make it an annual event, with even more departments participating next year.

Tracy Watler, Reporting tracy@kltv.com

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