Baker citizens feed multitude

Victims, volunteers and families didn’t go hungry

By Sherry Vogel

   Many stories of the Baker community pulling together in a crisis are well documented. The story of the tornado which devastated an eastside Baker neighborhood on June 11th follows suit. Like a ripple effect when a pebble is thrown into a pond so goes the story of The Sons of the American Legion and the food station they established in the hours following the tornado. Members came together to decide that they could be of help to victims, emergency crews and many volunteers by providing food to help sustain their strength as they labored in the clean-up efforts.  Devon Banister, Justin Koenigsfeld, Gary Gorder and Scott Putnam went into action. They began this endeavor by cooking burgers, hotdogs and gems for whoever needed to eat. They had planned to originally set up the food just off the ‘ground zero site’. A local firefighter suggested it might be convenient for them to home base out of the fire station. The station had power, a kitchen, bathrooms and tables and chairs to sit and eat. Jodie Hoenke, wife of one firefighter, asked what she could do to help. She got involved as did other wives of firefighters as the wives are accustomed to taking sandwiches down to the station when the fighters are called out.

   What happened next was the ripple effect in full circle.

   Hoenke said, “People just started showing up asking what they could do to help.” The grocery store and area ranchers donated hamburger, buns, condiments, etc. Everything was cooked up that first night and delivered to crews on site. June 13 word was sent out that more food was needed. People just began showing up with food. “It was just awesome what came in,” stated Hoenke. “Roasters full of sloppy joes and stews, salads, fruit, baked goods and more meat.” Churches and private individuals came in to donate to the cause. The next morning, DES crews made up sack lunches and delivered to those working who did not want to take time to stop and eat.

   Devon Banister, member of the S.O.A.L., stopped by the station every day to see if anything was needed.

   The Sons of the American Legion organization and helpers figure they fed 700 people in the four days   they operated the food center. Many of those involved expressed just how wonderful it is to live in a community that pulls together and pitches in to make a difference in such a time of tragedy.