By Patrick Buchnowski The Tribune-Democrat
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — When he’s not rounding up lawbreakers, State Constable Sam Allison Sr. is delivering food to shut-ins and first responders who must work during the holidays or honoring fallen veterans.
Allison, 77, said he’s been delivering food to the homebound for 16 years. The meals are provided by St. Vincent de Paul’s Family Kitchen in Johnstown.
“It’s the joy of giving back to the people,” he said. “The look on their face when you knock on the door and you hand them a meal, and they look at you and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Allison.’ ”
Allison said he delivers about 25 meals on both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
He serves meals to many of the same people each year. Some of those to whom he delivered in the past have passed away.
“It got to the point where the people that I’ve been doing this for have died,” he said. “I was very attached to them.”
Allison said his desire to serve the community took him in a new direction.
“During my experience in law enforcement, I’ve seen so many accidents and drug overdoses and different things,” he said. “I’ve witnessed firsthand what first responders do. They’re so critical in our society. I started a program two years ago for first responders.”
Now, Allison delivers holiday meals to members of 7th Ward Ambulance and West End Ambulance Service, and to Johnstown police and firefighters.
“It’s amazing,” said Ira Hart, manager of West End Ambulance Service. “Without Sam, a lot of times, our folks wouldn’t get to participate in a holiday meal. Sam never lets us down. He’s always there for them.”
Allison has been a state constable for 32 years, having been repeatedly elected to six-year terms by voters in Johnstown’s 8th Ward.
He has been a police officer in Johnstown, Dale Borough and Westmont Borough.
A retired sergeant major with the U.S. Army, Allison was involved in military operations in Vietnam, Bosnia, Panama and the Middle East.
Allison, a captain in the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol, was squadron commander for Johnstown Squadron 1501 and remains active with Indiana Squadron 1501.
“I have the mentality of a 20-year-old,” Allison said. “But, unfortunately, the body doesn’t always respond.”
More recently, Allison said he has purchased dozens of 18-by-12-inch American flags that he gives to families of military veterans during funeral services.
Deep respect for the fallen motivates him.
“Every time I find a brother who is deceased, I visit the funeral home in uniform and I tell the family who I am and what I’m there for,” he said.
He hands them a folded flag to honor their loved ones.
“People say, ‘Mr. Allison, why are you doing this?’ ” Allison said. “Because it’s a fallen brother.”
Allison has no intentions of slowing down, he said.
He still rides in a patrol car with Johnstown police two nights a week.
“The bad guys haven’t gotten me yet,” Allison said. “It doesn’t mean it can’t happen. I want to keep sharp at all times and not become complacent.”