A Berkeley firefighter stands in front of 770 bags of food that volunteers put together on Saturday. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Dozens of volunteers joined dozens of Berkeley firefighters Saturday morning to put together holiday food bags for local seniors.

For more than 20 years, Berkeley Firefighters Random Acts has been providing food at Christmas for low income elderly. What started out as a small initiative has taken on the tone of a military operation, with volunteers lining up to unpack boxes of food and redistribute it into brown paper grocery bags.

The volunteers, who included Girl Scouts, members of two Berkeley Lions clubs, and city employees, starting packing bags for close to 800 seniors at Fire Station #5 on Shattuck Avenue at 8:30 am. By 10:30, volunteers were beginning to load the bags into various vehicles for delivery to those in need.

“So many seniors in our Berkeley community are in need this holiday season,” said Dori Tieu, the treasurer of Berkeley Firefighters Random Acts . “There are a record number of people who have signed up to have holiday food baskets delivered. We are very happy and excited to be able to deliver food and provide some cheer in over 770 homes this year.”

The grocery bags included a chicken, a loaf of bread, oatmeal, beans, fresh fruit and vegetables, and more. The food was donated by Berkeley Bowl, Grocery Outlet, Trader Joe’s, Monterey Market, and Whole Foods. The San Francisco Fire Credit Union and Ashby Plumbing & Heating Supply contributed to the effort, and private citizens also made donations.

Volunteers included people from Berkeley Firefighters Random Acts, Berkeley Firefighters Association, City of Berkeley Fire Department, Berkeley Lions Club, and the City of Berkeley.

Racks of bread wait to be placed into grocery bags. Photo: Cindy Fosselius
Boxes of broccoli. Photo by Cindy Fosselius
A troupe of Girl Scouts help make holiday grocery bags. Photo: George Fosselius
Bags waiting for distribution. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Firefighters load bags into vehicles to take to homes of seniors. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Avatar photo

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...