Oak Harbor schools’ fill the bus campaign a big success

More than 19,000 much-needed food items collected by students of Oak Harbor Public Schools were delivered to North Whidbey Help House in Oak Harbor Tuesday.

The annual Fill the Bus campaign was a huge success this year, making it the largest donation so far, according to school district Superintendent Lance Gibbon.

Students, along with the help of more than 30 volunteer sailors from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, took nearly an hour to unload two school buses.

Jean Wieman, executive director of Help House confirmed the donation topped the previous year’s number of roughly 17,000 items.

The food drive is a chance for schools and individual classrooms to have a friendly competition with the goal of helping those in need.

Gibbons said the winning school this year was Crescent Harbor Elementary School bringing in a whopping 6,414 items and the winning classroom was Marci Smith’s fifth grade class.

For the Help House, the large donation could not have come at a better time. Wieman said they were running low on certain items and not buying as much.

“We are now ahead of where we were last year,” said Wieman. “Everyone is going to be so excited we have mac and cheese again!”

Wieman said because of this donation, they will be going into the new year well stocked. She reported they have already given out 145 full turkey meal baskets to military families and 250 to the civilian community.

Conor Laffey, the district’s communication officer, said it was the first time he has ever seen anything like this.

“To see the kids rally behind such a good cause was really amazing,” he said.