Once again, Navy arrives to give Fishline a hand

POULSBO — Miss Kingston Andrea Strunk wasn’t alone in distributing backpacks filled with school supplies to participants in North Kitsap Fishline’s back-to-school program Monday morning.

She had several helping hands, thanks to a group of eight sailors from Subase Bangor, who once again stepped up to assist Fishline for the second time in as many months.

“This is part of my platform as Miss Kingston and I thought it would a great way to give something back,” Strunk explained as she waited for another participant to arrive.

In addition to volunteering at the food bank once or twice each week, Strunk said she plans to do more to increase awareness of the organization and also help with fund-raising efforts.

Monday’s focus was on the children who benefitted from the backpack program and will start school with all the school supplies they need to begin the year.

“I love it,” she said as she handed out another backpack. “The kids appreciate it so much more than the grown-ups and to see the smiles on their faces is really rewarding.”

For MR2 Ruben Colon, the day was about returning to the place where he and other sailors helped restripe the organization’s parking spaces and continuing his involvement in the community.

“I saw the chance and decided to come back out,” Colon said, adding with a chuckle that this time, he didn’t have to worry about getting dirty.

While he wasn’t able to help pack the 400 backpacks that were expected to be distributed, the reward is much the same, he said.

“Whenever you see the kids smile, it’s worth it and they show their appreciation better than adults,” Colon said.

Fishline Executive Director Sharon Kirkpatrick’s beaming smile said it all in spite of the parking limitations Fishline faces.

“This has been a wonderful collaboration from the community to churches to the military coming together on one project,” Kirkpatrick remarked.

A wide range of community groups including the Hansville ladies group, North Pointe Church and the Navy helped fill the backpacks with all the school supplies on the North Kitsap School District’s list for kids from kindergarten to the 12th grade, she said.

“Our challenges were as small as glue sticks and erasers and as expensive as high school specific calculators,” Kirkpatrick explained.

However, a strong community effort resulted in a successful collection of supplies, which is being distributed creatively, she said.

“We had to get creative and stuff the van with backpacks, so we can operate in a drive-through fashion,” she said. “We try to get people in and out as quickly as we can.”

With the group of sailors and Miss Kingston helping out, the system appeared to be working smoothly.

“This is just Day One and we’ve already given out more than 80 backpacks between 10 (a.m.) and 11:30 (a.m.),” Kirkpatrick noted.

Even though the group has 400 backpacks ready for distribution, efforts are ongoing to provide more if needed, she said.

“We still have people that have the need and we’ll keep working to meet it,” she said.

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