Walla Walla School District's Holiday Food Drive wrapped up Dec. 18 with a whopping 13,343 pounds collected for the Blue Mountian Action Council Food Bank. The project was spearheaded by Green Park Elementary teacher Michelle Carpenter and Lincoln Alternative High School teacher Lori Finn.
Their leadership helped make this year's event a tremendous success," The Walla Walla School District online newsletter reported Dec. 18. Another $1,000 or so in cash was collected the Week in Review reported Jan. 8.
Collection bins were placed at schools, the district office, Walla Walla General Hospital, Kid's Place and district holiday music concerts.
"I cannot believe how well the kids did. The teachers and staff need to be commended for their strategy in getting the kids to bring in that many pounds," said Gail McGhee, with the BMAC Food Bank.
This year's big hit was the "Fill the School Bus" event at area grocery stores. School buses decorated with student-made signs were parked at Albertsons, both Safeway stores, Super 1 Foods and Loney's Harvest Foods on Dec. 5. Staff, students and parents volunteered to collect food items and promote the event.
Students greeted shoppers at the store entrances and encouraged them to support the food drive. They made thank you stickers, passed out candy canes and helped load the food items on the school buses for delivery to the food bank. Volunteer school bus drivers then drove the school buses to BMAC's Food Bank to unload the 5,326 pounds of items. District food drive totals include: Berney Elementary, 1,669 pounds; Sharpstein Elementary, 1,482 pounds;
Walla Walla High School, 1,054 pounds; Edison Elementary, 633 pounds; Garrison Middle School, 621 pounds; Prospect Point Elementary, 570 pounds; Green Park Elementary, 551 pounds; Walla Walla General Hospital, 521 pounds; Blue Ridge Elementary, 489 pounds; Pioneer Middle School, 246 pounds; Kid's Place, 92 pounds; District Office, 89 pounds.
Tipsy Taxi volunteers and sponsors enabled the Walla Walla area to be a safer place in which to drive over the holiday season.
Nancy McClenny-Walters, Target Zero manager with the Walla Walla County Traffic Safety Task Force, congratulated the group for its help and efforts.
"The numbers are in and we transported 235 people home." An average of 17 people per day were kept off the roads, she said. In fact, no fatalities were reported in Washington state on New Year's Eve, as compared to five a year ago, Nancy said.
Walla Walla Police Department Public Information Officer Tim Bennett said the traffic safety runs in Walla Walla County started in mid-December and ran through New Year's Eve. He said the program isn't possible without the help of volunteers, of whom he is one. He's been involved with drunken driving programs throughout his career, "but I've never driven the Tipsy Taxi before so I went out one night and only drove two parties. But you get done driving and think, 'that's two different couples that couldn't hurt anybody that night had they chosen to drive ...' " Nancy said the volunteers help keep the city a safer place.
Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or afternoons at 526-8313.