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A whale of a check

Two Whaling Days board of directors members dropped off a record $1,110.65 check at the CK Food Bank Thursday, all generated from the generosity of tips at the festival’s beer garden.

The money will be used to purchase food for the CK Food Bank. At an average cost of $33 for 300 pounds of food, the Whaling Days donation will purchase more than 10,000 pounds of food.

“It all stays here,” said Joe Cargile, CK Food Bank executive director.

Last year’s contribution was about $700. Organizers credited the Whaling Days attendees’ increased generosity to more tip jars and word-of-mouth advertising by the beer garden’s volunteers.

“You can have all the signs in the world, but if you don’t tell people (it’s not the same),” said Vicky Webb, beer garden chairwoman.

The signs on the tip jars explaining that all the money goes to the CK Food Bank did help, said Dave Hietala, a Storekeeper Chief Petty Officer in the Navy. Hietala and his wife Sandra, who live in Bremerton, have been volunteering at Whaling Days for 17 years.

Proceeds from selling extra staff T-shirts after the event, are directly poured into the tip jar.

“That’s what we do as a festival,” Webb said. “We don’t take anything for ourselves.”

“We are 100 percent volunteer and totally give back to the community,” said Carla Larson, Whaling Days secretary.

A few groups of workers at Whaling Days, such as security and clean-up teams, are paid staff. The beer garden, though, is entirely volunteer-run and Webb and Larson’s children, who were old enough to join the 21+ Club staff, helped out this year.

“In the beer garden we’ve never been paid – just T-shirts and lots of laughs,” Webb said, laughing herself. “It’s a lot to ask people to do something for nothing.”

She said this year she will send a copy of the receipt from the CK Food Bank donation check to the thank you letters going out to her nearly 30 volunteers.

Cargile said he will pitch in, thanking the volunteers with a certificate of appreciation they can display in the beer garden next year.

“When people take the time to say thank you, it makes all the difference in the world,” Webb said.

People also are what keep volunteers like the Hietalas coming back. Every year Dave Hietala says it will be his last, “but he takes 364 days to rest up” and comes back donating his time at the beer garden, Webb said.

Proceeds from the tip jars in the wine section during the July 29-31 Whaling Days went to support the Clear Creek Trail, Webb said.

“It’s not as much (as the CK Food Bank check) but every bit helps,” she added.

Cargile’s first summer on the job

It was Cargile’s first time receiving the Whaling Days’ check on behalf of the CK Food Bank. He was warehouse manager at the food bank for three years before taking on the new title in June. The food bank’s board of directors appointed him interim director and then executive director when five-year veteran Christine Bolinger took a job with Olympic Cascade Services.

Cargile, who hails from Dallas, Texas, said he retired from 25 years of civil service at Keyport. Then it was time to give back to the community and he applied for the warehouse manager/truck driver job at the food bank.

“When I was younger we had services my parents used to go to and I always felt a little ashamed,” he recalled.

Now he works with 30 active volunteers and two other paid staff members.

“They’re all huggers,” Cargile said.

After receiving the check from the Whaling Days board members, they said goodbye with hugs as well.

For Cargile, it is the strong community support that the CK Food Bank leans on. He has already accumulated a slew of stories about community members giving their time, or money, or both.

Seven to 20 families stop by the CK Food Bank every day, Cargile said.

“You look at Silverdale and you wonder, ‘really can there be that many people?’” he said.

As an emergency food service, “we base (our help) on your honor,” Cargile explained. Every person the food bank helps receives roughly 20 pounds of food, which lasts them for about a week.

Working at the food bank proved to be food for Cargile’s soul, but diet for his body. When he was lifting and stacking the food containers in the warehouse in his first capacity at the CK Food Bank, Cargile said he slimmed down by 35 pounds.

“You think at the food bank people would gain weight, but no,” he said jokingly.

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