Community

Community harvest deemed tasty success

Krissie Smallwood, right, poses with 2-year-old Diego Torres at the North Whidbey Community Harvest on Thanksgiving. Smallwood has been dressing as a clown and attending the meal the past six years to cheer up those who are facing a lonely holiday. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Krissie Smallwood, right, poses with 2-year-old Diego Torres at the North Whidbey Community Harvest on Thanksgiving. Smallwood has been dressing as a clown and attending the meal the past six years to cheer up those who are facing a lonely holiday.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

They came out in droves on Thursday to grab a plate, or three, at the ninth annual North Whidbey Community Harvest feast. Military men and women, young families, senior citizens and city leaders alike showed up at the Elks Lodge in Oak Harbor for a succulent Thanksgiving holiday.

Clarissa Torres and her family attend the harvest every year. Before the food was served, Torres took photos of her 2-year-old son, Diego, with some colorful clowns who helped host the meal. She said though the food is always great, it’s the friendly atmosphere that keeps her coming back.

“We love it,” Torres said. “It’s the people, they’re wonderful.”

Hundreds of volunteers helped the event run smoothly. And while many were Whidbey natives, other volunteers had traveled from Bellingham, Vancouver and San Francisco to pitch in.

“I’ve been coming here since I was little,” 12-year-old Anna King said as she manned the dessert table. “It gives me something to do during the day besides watch TV.”

A group of Oak Harbor kids took turns handing out the different types of cakes and pies, and though they agreed they had one of the best volunteer duties, they said watching over the desserts is harder than it looks.

“I just want to grab an entire can of the whipped cream and eat it,” 15-year-old Blake Leech said.

The feast included ham, turkey, a variety of salads and potatoes and other warm, holiday dishes. A team of brave men worked tirelessly in a back room carving the birds to ensure those going through the buffet line were never left wanting.

On the opposite side of the dining hall, an equally impressive array of appetizers were spread out. People nibbled from hearty vegetable and cheese platters, finger foods and candy trays before taking on the main course.

Event coordinator Skip Pohtilla estimates that about 3,200 total meals were served, which is slightly fewer than in years past. He said many people noted that their neighbors and families couldn’t make it out because of the snow and ice from last week’s storm, and the weather also caused more people to request meal delivery service. Food was taken out to the base hospital and security workers, the police department, jail and local stores among other places.

Pohtilla wished to extend a special thanks to Midway Florist who supplied all of the decorative floral arrangements and to the 350 plus volunteers.

“It was a real good year,” Pohtilla said. “Once again everyone had fun. We’re happy as long as there’s one family that has a good time and enjoys it.”

Between $6,200 and $6,500 in donations were collected during the event to help pay for the meal cost, but Pohtilla said organizers are falling short and money is still being accepted. Donations can be dropped off at Bay Printing, 1131 SE Ely St. in Oak Harbor. Checks should be made out to “North Whidbey Community Harvest c/o Bay Printing.”

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