EVERETT — Almost every student at Cascade High School chipped in.
The cafeteria was turned into a temporary warehouse and grocery store Wednesday for the school’s 56th annual food drive. As of the afternoon, the event had tallied 80,000 cans of food, 1,800 presents for children and teens, and more than $30,000 in donations for food and other needs.
Students from Kelly Rogers’ advanced leadership class started working before dawn. Some stacked cereal boxes and peanut butter jars, while their friends unloaded whole turkeys from a truck. Others broke down the leftover cardboard. Another group stayed after school. They filled boxes to be delivered to local families Thursday.
Students, alumni and volunteers came together to make it work, said Danica Wood, one of two senior event co-chairs.
The leadership class began the heavy planning in October, getting the word out and making the posters.
“Ever since, everything has just been more and more stuff to get done … ” she said. “I’m so thankful that so many people are willing to help us.”
Senior co-chair Sam Barnes had been recruited to work on the food drive as a freshman, by his brother. He and many others return year after year.
Barnes’ father was someone who benefited from food drives as a child, he said. His father told him how much that mattered. The teen understood even more when he went on the deliveries.
“It’s very, very emotional for a lot of people,” he said.
Sophomore Haziel Lopez is one of the younger students in the class. Last year, his family received about 13 boxes from the drive.
“My mom was really happy,” he said. “I know this event helps out in a lot of places and a lot of people in need.”
Cami Kloes is a junior event chair. Unlike years past, now she has a car and is excited to join the deliveries.
She was watching Wood and Barnes. Next year, their responsibilities might be hers.
Wood had advice: “Reach out to everybody. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
And don’t forget what follows the hard work: Cleaning up.