Giving back in a big way


Bremerton Patriot

Olympic High School senior Chelsea Harrington wasn’t in class Tuesday, but it was for a good cause.

Harrington and about 170 of her classmates filled the Bremerton Eagles Lodge as part of the Olympic High School DECA Club’s 17th annual outreach dinner, which was expected to serve more than 1,700 meals to the area’s homeless and less fortunate.

“We had more than enough volunteers, and it’s going perfectly,” Harrington said as the event entered its second hour. The doors opened at 10 a.m. and were set to close at 7 p.m.

Because the event is entirely student-run, students, not teachers, had to find ways to make the event a success, she said.

“We had to go into the community and collect money, and we had to collect a ton of food,” she said.

The event also plays into her possible future plans beyond high school as Harrington said she has thoughts of similar volunteer efforts as a possible career choice.

“I’m considering doing community service as a career option and incorporating business into that,” Harrington said.

Another Olympic High School senior, Jenna Collins, was hard at work bringing meals to the ever-growing number of waiting diners.

“This is my second year, and it’s a lot of fun,” Collins said.

The best part about the whole event is getting to help people in the community, she added.

“I love to do it, and Chelsea is really great at getting people to help her,” Collins said.

As Olympic High School marketing instructor Laurie Shaw watched the seemingly non-stop parade of plates going out to tables and students welcoming guests and catering to their every need, she said that both groups, the students and the diners, get something out of this annual event.

“They get a hot meal and the students are inspired by some of these people,” Shaw said. “It shows how important it is to stay in school.”

Last year’s event served just about 1,700 people. Tuesday morning found a line outside the door at 9 a.m., a full hour before the event began, she said.

In addition to receiving a hot holiday meal, guests left with bags of non-perishable food, hygiene products and even clothes and blankets, all of which were collected by different student groups at Olympic High School, she said.

Planning for the event began in September and this year also brought out a record number of OHS alumni, who returned to help the current group of Trojans with the event, Shaw said.

Local comedian Cris Larsen also was in attendance as he has been for the past 17 years.

“The first year it had only 47, but look at it now,” Larsen said.

Although dinner wasn’t served until Tuesday morning, students were at the lodge from 2 p.m. until about 10 p.m. Monday getting things ready, he said.

The Navy and the Marines also contributed to the event as Navy cooks prepared the turkey and Marines were on-hand to provide security and crowd control, Larsen said.

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