May 22—Some Penn Hills EMS staff put their ambulances to unique use May 20.
They loaded the vehicles up with food collected as part of the annual Stamp Out Hunger drive conducted by the local members of the National Association of Letter Carriers on May 11.
Penn Hills area U.S. Postal Service customers made the food drive a success, resulting in around 13,000 pounds that 62 letter carriers in Penn Hills and Wilkinsburg collected while delivering mail, said post office customer service supervisor David Fitzhenry.
The food was taken to the Penn Hills branch of the U.S. Postal Service, where it was loaded into trucks for delivery to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Lincoln Park Community Center and Penn Hills Service Association.
The issue was gathering the volunteers and trucks to deliver them, said Penn Hills EMS Supervisor Diane Fitzhenry, David Fitzhenry's mother.
"So we decided to get some of our trucks and people to help them out," Diane Fitzhenry said.
Of the municipality's six ambulances, three were used to deliver food to the Lincoln Park Community Center and the Penn Hills Service Association while the remaining took regular calls.
Gus Zampitella III, a Penn Hills paramedic, loaded food into ambulances on his day off.
"I try to do community stuff," he said as others finished loading the last ambulance. "It's part of my job as a civil servant. It's what we do—we help people."
Though six other EMS staff members helped to fill three ambulances and a smaller SUV, it still wasn't enough to fit all the donated food in one trip. The crew drove back to the post office to load the rest of the food.
"There was so much food -- we would have had a very difficult time getting it to our building," said Joyce Davis, executive director of the Lincoln Park Community Center. "So it was totally a blessing."
She said the timing of the food delivery was great, too.
"With school getting out soon, the kids are going to be home for summer. They're going to need some extra food," Davis said of the roughly 250 families who benefit from the center's weekly food pantry.
The center opens a vegetable food pantry every Wednesday from 4:30 to 6 p.m with other pantries for Penn Hills residents held during one Saturday and Monday every month.
For more details, visit lincolnparkcommunitycenter.com.