Arlington High School students organize a feast

By Brian Kelly

Herald Writer

ARLINGTON — There could be 200 bulging bellies around town today, thanks to two Arlington High School students.

Amanda Hutton and Tianne McKinley have organized an ambitious feast for the less fortunate, a major meal with turkey and all the trimmings, as their project for a leadership class at school.

The dinner will be from 3 to 7 p.m. at the high school, and McKinley and Hutton hope to feed 200 or more people.

Although it was a great idea, the two soon discovered they had almost bitten off more than they could chew.

"I help my mom with Thanksgiving, but that’s nothing compared to this," McKinney said.

"It’s going to be interesting," she laughed.

The goal, though, is bigger than awesome eats.

"We’re hoping that people who can’t necessarily provide their own Thanksgiving dinner will come, those who want to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner with their family but can’t quite do it themselves," McKinley said.

All students in the leadership class at Arlington High are required to do a project. Some are as simple as tracking class attendance. But Hutton, 18, and McKinley, 16, wanted to pick a project that would make a difference.

The pair has been raising money for the dinner pretty much since school started in September, Hutton said.

They started by selling students.

"Basically, we auctioned off students to other students," Hutton explained.

The "friend auction" had students bidding for the services of other students, who then had duties such as carrying books or chauffeuring classmates to school. That event raised $600.

They then organized in-school competitions, where classes battled to see which one could raise the most money by filling collection jars. The teens also convinced local businesses to set out donation jars.

Next, it was time for the paperwork shuffle. The pair had to get approval from principal Bob Penny for use of the high school’s commons. He also helped them get the go-ahead to use cafeteria staff and maintenance workers for the cleanup.

The money brought in by the fund-raising events will pay for the use of school resources.

But the work didn’t come to a close there, or by filling up their grocery carts with turkeys, croutons, cranberries and all the other necessities for a Thanksgiving meal.

Hutton and McKinley have also been behind the search for people to serve, those folks in Arlington and beyond who might not have the money for a holiday feast.

They put fliers and signs around town, and also sent the word out through four elementary schools, as well as churches and other service organizations.

Earlier this week, the students and their cadre of enlisted volunteers started the prep work for the big meal.

The two won’t be the ones to toast Tom Turkey, however. The cafeteria crew that’s been recruited to help out will handle cooking turkey meat, and they’ll do the mashed potatoes as well.

"I really hope that a lot of people come. Obviously, that means more work," McKinley said.

"I hope we are able to help a lot of people. Then we will feel that it was all worthwhile."

You can call Herald Writer Brian Kelly at 425-339-3422 or send e-mail to kelly@heraldnet.com.

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