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Oak Harbor students pack buses with more than 13,000 food items for North Whidbey Help House

During the finale of Fill the Bus, Haley Hillman and Vincent Mambrini, Broad View Elementary School students, work together to haul a box full of donated food items to the bus that would take the donations to the Help House. - Rebecca Olson / Whidbey News-Times
During the finale of Fill the Bus, Haley Hillman and Vincent Mambrini, Broad View Elementary School students, work together to haul a box full of donated food items to the bus that would take the donations to the Help House.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson / Whidbey News-Times

It almost took more than two buses to transport 13,600 food items to the North Whidbey Help House in the grand finale of the fourth annual Fill the Bus food drive. Students from both Oak Harbor middle schools and all the elementary schools contributed items during November.

“I feel awesome!” 10-year-old Brianna Holter said after Broad View Elementary School students loaded boxes and wagons packed with food items onto a bus.

“It’s not all about winning but at least we helped people in need,” added Ashley Tieger, 9.

Despite the rain, the students paired up to haul heavy boxes to the buses as they visited each school. A rainbow appeared as Broad View Elementary students gathered for a group photo after their labors.

“It feels really good to help people who don’t have money. Really good,” said Haley Hillman, 9.

At the Help House, a group of Navy volunteers and school staff unloaded the pair of full buses and sorted the food items.

“We kind of rely on this time of year because it’s when the biggest food drives go on,” said Eric Mager, assistant director for the Help House.

Despite the trickle of donations throughout the year, the Help House’s stores dwindle and in October, “we’re practically down to bare pallets,” Mager said. “This stuff that we get now helps carry us all the way through the year.”

Mager expressed his thanks to the students who donated and helped with the cause.

“I would express a lot of gratitude for all their hard work. It takes a lot of commitment for them to follow through to the end,” Mager said.

The Help House always welcomes donations. It is located at 1091 SE Hathaway St. in Oak Harbor.

For information about offering or receiving help, call the Help House at 675-0681.

 

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