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Nonprofits benefit from local schools’ food drives
KINGSTON — It happens every year: Generosity overflows in the North Kitsap School District.
Those in charge of food and gift drives, however, do not always keep tabs of the amount being donated per school. Instead, it becomes custom to measure the amount donated to local food banks by vehicle size.
“We usually bring in a lot of food,” Robin Alberts said. “It seemed like a lot more this year.”
Alberts works at Kingston High School as a history teacher and Associated Student Body coordinator, which she has done since the school opened more than five years ago. An ASB competition, between each grade level, challenges students to bring in the most food. Students collect food at grocery stores and neighborhoods to donate to Kingston’s ShareNet.
This year, it took Alberts three trips in her van to take the food to ShareNet.
“I definitely don’t remember taking so many trips,” she said.
Kingston High School is one example of what the students in the district are doing this holiday season. Among the 11 schools in the district, at least eight have or are currently working on donating food or gifts.
On Friday, students from Breidablik Elementary sorted boxed and canned foods. The food will be donated to Fishline Dec. 12 by interim principal Glen Robbins. Though the total amount of food donated was unknown — Fishline will provide the total next week — it's bound to be hundreds of pounds worth.
This year, each Breidablik class was challenged to donate 163 pounds of food. The challenge was presented by a teacher who lost 163 pounds in 14 months. The drive was also used a a learning tool, as younger students read labels as they sorted out the food.
During the holiday blitz of donations, nonprofits may not know of all the food or gift drives going on until more donations start pouring in.
“A lot of times these things happen and we don’t know about it until they drive up with the donations,” Executive Director of North Kitsap Fishline Mary Nader said.
The nonprofits receiving donated items from NKSD include Kitsap Community Resources, North Kitsap Fishline, ShareNet, and the Suquamish Food Bank.
Fishline receives donations from Breidablik Elementary, Poulsbo Elementary, Vinland Elementary, and North Kitsap High School. Nader said she is not sure if Poulsbo Middle School is working on a donation drive. Schools, such as Poulsbo Elementary, may also adopt a family and provide gifts for the holidays.
Though she is unsure of the specific demand of Fishline’s food program, Nader said a record-setting number of Thanksgiving baskets were passed out — about 260. This shows the demand, which, she said, was a double-digit increase from 2010.
As far as Fishline’s Toy Shop, Nader said 85 families have signed up. The Toy Shop provides gifts for children and teenagers — Fishline is still looking for gifts for teenagers; gift donations go to First Lutheran Church in Poulsbo Dec. 13 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
ShareNet receives donations from Gordon Elementary, Wolfle Elementary, Kingston Middle School and Kingston High School. It was unclear what donation drive Gordon Elementary was working on when this story went to print.
Because of a computer malfunction, ShareNet’s food manager Kathy Melseth was unsure what the demand for food was in the past. Having worked for the nonprofit for more than four years, however, Melseth said the demand has “increased considerably.”
In previous years Melseth would help about 16 families per week. As of Tuesday, this week, she provided food for at least 20 families. ShareNet is open two days per week. Melseth expects to serve about 60 families per week. Of those, about half have children in the North Kitsap School District.
Out of all the schools doing food drives, Suquamish Elementary is the only school to provide to the Suquamish Food Bank. Suquamish library technician Gail Petranek coordinates the food drive. Each year, she said, the drive stocks the shelves of the food bank.
“We like to fill the [beds] of two, four-wheel-drive trucks,” she said.
Here’s where donations can still be made at schools:
- Wolfle Elementary: Donations collected until Dec. 16 go to Sharenet. Food or new toys can be dropped off at the main office.
- North Kitsap High School: Food collected through Dec. 15.
- Suquamish Elementary: Through Dec. 14, collected by Pack 4569 Cub Scouts. Food will go to Suquamish Food Bank.
- Vinland Elementary: Accepting donations through Dec. 13. Toy donations to school's main office.
- North Kitsap High School: Donations collected Dec. 9-15. Dropped off in main office or commons. Benefits Fishline. Also supporting 21 Christmas Angels through Kitsap Community Resources.