ROGERS COUNTY—As December starts, OTEMS ambulance service’s first holiday “Stuff the Ambulance with Food and Toys” drive already has reached over 42 percent of its goal of 2,500 pounds of food.

The drive has collected more than 1,054 pounds of food and about $180 since its launch in late November.

“This is all about providing a little extra something for the holidays for those less fortunate than us,” said Ryan Setzkorn, assistant OTEMS director.

Food will be distributed through the Oologah United Methodist Church; toys through that church and the Angel Tree program of the Oologah Assembly of God, said Shelbie Wayman, OTEMS community liaison and a paramedic supervisor.

OTEMS, with stations in Oologah and north of Claremore, covers more than 200 square miles of Rogers County including all of Oologah and Talala and part of Claremore and offers the county’s only full paramedic/advanced life support service.

An OTEMS ambulance collects donations in the Apple Market parking lot at US 169 and OK 88. Signs were donated by Lisa Sharp, local graphic designer.

Schedules will be updated on the Oologah-Talala EMS Facebook site, with collections currently set for the 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 5), 5-7 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 7),11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 9), and the afternoon of Sunday (Dec. 10).

Canned or non-perishable food items, toys or money donations are welcome.

The Methodist Church already has a food pantry program, mobile food bank program and sponsors the local Food for Kids backpack program that provides nutritious weekend supplemental food for children who rely heavily on school meals during the school week for nutrition, plus a Christmas toy drive.

The Assembly of God has an established Angel Tree, so OTEMS is relying on those local programs to ensure that donations reach those who most need them.

The project idea came from Butler County EMS southeast of Wichita, which challenged OTEMS to match their annual drive. That challenge came when OTEMS officials were studying a new ambulance design used by Butler. OTEMS enthusiastically accepted.

“It’s our turn to challenge you and your EMS service to do a ‘Stuff the Ambulance drive’,” Setzkorn said speaking to other Oklahoma communities.

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