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50 ¢ THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2013 VOL. 19, NO. 21 Students’ food drive helps into new year Season of giving By Nathan Whalen Staff Reporter A group of students at Coupeville Elementary School spent busy weeks collecting food for Gifts from the Heart food bank, which serves low-income families in Coupeville and Greenbank. Each member of the school’s Leadership Club, which consists of about 15 students, had assigned classrooms to collect the bins, fourth-grader Anika Rasmussen said. Fellow leadership club member Ja’Kenya Hoskins noted that some of the bins were overflowing when they picked them up. The club had a goal for each class during the food drive. For classes in kindergarten through first-grade, the goal was 100 nonperishable food items. For classes in third-grade through fifth-grade, the goal was 150 food items. The food drive ended Dec. 20 in time for the winter break. Classes that achieve the goal will get a treat — a lollipop dance performed by Principle Dave Ebersole. He will dance in a classroom wearing a top hat adorned with lollipops and other decorations, Rasmussen said. “Mr. Ebersole throws out lollipops to the kids,” fourth-grader Mckenna Somes said. Fourth-grader Isabelle Wells added that three or four students will wear reindeer hats and bells and join Ebersole. Jon Gabelein, who is the club advisor, said more than 1,000 items had been collected as of Dec. 17. The high school also conducted a food drive that wrapped up Dec. 20. Molly Hughes, director of Gifts from the Heart, said the collections from the schools help the food bank get through January and February. “For several years, the high school food drive is our biggest one of the year,” Hughes said. She noted the elementary school provided other help to the food bank when the fifth-grade class recently donated cases of oranges and grapefruit. Gifts from the Heart typically dispenses food the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from locations in Coupeville and Greenbank. Nathan Whalen photo Irene Gustafson organizes fresh produce at Gifts from the Heart food bank last week. The food bank changed its distribution days this month so it could help families prior to Christmas. Coupeville students get weekend meals In the past three months, more than 40 students at Coupeville Elementary School have received food to help get them through the weekend. The Gifts from the Heart’s Meals 2 Kids program started in the fall for students who qualify for free and reduced lunches. Every Friday, students will receive two breakfasts, two lunches, two beverages, two snacks and two pieces of fresh fruit. Molly Hughes, who heads Gifts from the Heart food bank, said the 41 students participating in the food program are from 20 families living within the school district’s boundaries. The number of students in the Coupeville School District who qualify for free and reduced lunches stands at 34.5 percent. Hughes added that organizers of the program planned for a maximum of 50 students to receive the weekend food and the food bank is receiving donations earmarked for the Meals 2 Kids program. Gifts from the Heart helping through holidays By Nathan Whalen Staff Reporter About a dozen volunteers spent the morning of Dec. 18 sorting food being distributed to families on Central Whidbey Island. Coupeville’s Gifts from the Heart food bank volunteers were busy making sure low income families had a holiday meal in time for Christmas. Volunteers expected to give out around 150 Christmas hams last week as part of the twice monthly dispersal times that take place in Greenbank and Coupeville. In addition to the hams, volunteers were also busy sorting bags of groceries that are given to low-income families. The food bank had to change its dispersal dates this month to the first and third Wednesday of the month so people could get help before Christmas. Hughes said a community effort is needed to provide the holiday food. Gifts from the Heart worked with Prairie Center to get a good deal on the hams and such places as the high school to help store the extra food. She added that several farms, including Sherman farms and Rosehip Farm provided squash for residents. The holiday distribution comes as two food drives are winding down in the Coupeville School District. The donations from the schools helps the food bank get through January and February. Gifts from the Heart food bank dispersed 164 turkeys to families in time for Thanksgiving. Hughes said the Thanksgiving dispersal was the second busiest month since 2011. The local food bank typically doles food the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at the Coupeville Boys and Girls Club and the Greenbank Progressive Club.

Whidbey Examiner, December 26, 2013

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