BISBEE — For over half a century, at least, the Bisbee Fire Department has held food drives to be sure everyone had something for their tables on Thanksgiving Day.

Due to the pandemic last year, the department did not hold the annual drive as the COVID–19 virus surged in the county. This year, they decided to keep people in their cars so there would be as little up-close contact with people as possible, said firefighter Cody Ayon.

Though some years have been lean as they collected food and money for 100 to 150 families, this year there were just 54 boxes to fill. Thanks to the community, they had plenty to fill them to the brim and still have some food they can hold back for Christmas.

Maybe the Bisbee economy is rebounding or maybe there are just fewer people in need this year, but all requests have to be approved by the Arizona Department of Economic Security. From the forms people filled out, the firefighters knew how many people were to be fed and could adjust the boxes to meet the needs of larger families.

Tuesday morning, Ayon and firefighter/EMT Nick De La Torre began to hand out the boxes to waiting residents grateful for the assistance.

A turkey, rolls, margarine and pies were provided to each individual and family in addition to the makings for plenty of side dishes to go with the holiday meal. People donated boxed potatoes and stuffing, cans of veggies and fruits, bags of dried beans, even a few cake mixes and complimentary frostings.

“Everybody’s in high spirits this year,” said Ayon. “We were able to give people a full box of food.”

The firefighters will have a few days of calm before beginning the Christmas food and toy drive. People can pick up the DES forms at the fire station on State Route 92 or the one on Tombstone Canyon.

Donations of new, unwrapped toys for newborns to children up to age 12 and nonperishable food for Christmas dinner can be dropped off at either fire station. Cash is also accepted.

For information, call the fire department at 520-432-4110 or 520-432-6022.