COLUMBIA — The flashing lights were signaling an emergency, but not the usual kind.
"Hunger is an emergency," said Danny Spry, spokesman for the Columbia Professional Firefighters and a firefighter himself.
Volunteers were on the corner of Providence Road and Elm Street Thursday amassing edible and monetary donations for The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.
People from Woodcrest Chapel, Inside Columbia Magazine, The Food Bank, Zimmer Radio Group and the Columbia Professional Firefighters waved signs and danced around on the sidewalk to bring attention to the food drive.
Volunteers from the Columbia Professional Firefighters were participating for the second year in a row.
"We're trying to make it an annual deal now," Spry said. "And, this is perfect weather. We're very community oriented."
The firefighters will be joined by volunteers from Woodcrest Chapel as the day goes on.
"We'll probably have about 100 volunteers throughout the day," said Bobbie Kincade, Director of Development at The Food Bank.
The Food Bank feeds about 95,000 people every month, Kincade said.
While she said she was pleased with how much the drive had collected so far Thursday morning, Kincade said she didn't have an exact number for how much they had collected.
She said the goals for Thursday were:
- $60,000 in donations.
- 15,000 pounds of food.
- 300 text messages.
That's right, texts. Anyone who can't make it to the volunteers can text "Bread" to 20222, and a $10 donation will be billed directly to their cell phone account.
With the trucks' lights flashing, coffee steaming and the two chuckling about everything, Spry and Fred Parry from Inside Columbia Magazine warmed the frigid situation.
"Last year, Danny raised $5,000 at the top of the ladder," Parry joked. "This year, he's going for ten (thousand), he just doesn't know it yet."
Kincade said she's gratful for the firefighters' enthusiasm and help with the food drive.
"They get up there and shout and scream," she said.
Refreshments for the volunteers came from multiple local businesses, Kincade said. Kaldi's gave coffee, Papa John's donated pizza for lunch and Panera sent them bagels and coffee.
The drive started at 6 a.m. Thursday and will run until 6 p.m.