Assistant fire chief Matt Barney prepares bags for the Dec. 12 Santa Run. The run collects donations for the Sooke Christmas Bureau and Sooke Food Bank.

Sooke firefighters, Santa collecting for food bank

Firefighters will parade through Sooke with decorated firetrucks collecting donations on Dec. 12.

A group of Santa’s helpers, who double as firefighters, will be out spreading Christmas spirit while collecting food for the Sooke Christmas Bureau and Sooke Food Bank.

More than 60 Sooke firefighters and other community volunteers will suit up and travel throughout the municipality in four shiny firetrucks collecting non-perishable food donations on Dec. 12 between 4:30 and 9 p.m. in the annual Sooke Santa Run.

“I’ve been with the fire department five years and every year I’m blown away by how excited people are about it and how it grows every year,” said firefighter Ben Temple, who helps to organize the annual event.

Every year since 1993, firefighters have paraded through Sooke with decorated firetrucks, handing out treats to children and collecting donations.

The Santa Run is the flagship event of the Fill-a-Firetruck initiative, which begins in late November. Last year, the Santa Run collected more than $100,000 in food, toys and cash donations.

Starting Wednesday, paper bags will be distributed in most editions of the Sooke News Mirror – other areas will have the bags delivered over the next few days.

Sooke residents are asked to fill the bags with groceries or toys. Firefighters will then arrive at the end of driveways and collect the bags. Maps of the firefighters’ route are printed on the bags.

A fun feature is the ability to track each truck live.

On Dec. 12 as each truck leaves the firehall, its location will be tracked using the District of Sooke’s mapping system. Location updates are available on social media. To follow the trucks go online to sooke.ca/districtnews/santa-run-for-sooke-food-bank or on Facebook at Sooke Fire Rescue Service.

“It’s a really big community event and we’re super proud to do it. It obviously helps those who are less fortunate in our community, and it provides those people who want to give an easy and fun way to do it,” Temple said.

The Santa Run is a joint initiative of the Sooke Fire Department, Sooke Firefighters Association and International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4841.