Students fill the shelves of food banks for holiday meals

Thanks to food drive efforts of students from Bonney Lake and Sumner high schools, the Bonney Lake and Bread of Life food banks reaped a harvest of hospitality for the holiday season.

Mike Giefer from East Pierce Fire and Rescue and Zack Jones from the Bonney Lake Public Works Department load food at Bonney Lake High Dec. 16.

Bonney Lake and Sumner high school students

gather a bountiful harvest

Thanks to food drive efforts of students from Bonney Lake and Sumner high schools, the Bonney Lake and Bread of Life food banks reaped a harvest of hospitality for the holiday season.

The drives yielded donations totaling 22,647 items with 17,293 items from Sumner High and 5,354 items from Bonney Lake High, according to Ann Cook, the Sumner School District communications director.

Stew Bowen, director of both food banks, said the amount from Bonney Lake High weighed in at 4,300 pounds. It was picked up Dec. 16 by Bonney Lake Public Works employees along with help from Bonney Lake Police and East Pierce Fire and Rescue personnel. Items were split between the food banks and the Bonney Lake Senior Center.

“We’re really grateful for the students’ hard work and for supplying us with enough holiday material to make approximately 140 holiday baskets,” Bowen said. “We were able to get enough food to the people so they could enjoy a Christmas meal.”

That’s just half of the story.

At the senior center, the city trucks delivered enough food to fill its upstairs room. Due to recent inclement weather, the center closed and reopens this week, with a distribution for seniors planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.

The generosity expressed through the students’ food drive efforts wasn’t lost on Sue Hilberg, senior center director. “We got a ton of food,” she said.

The entire food drive took teamwork.

“We’ve always done something over the years between the senior center, City Hall, the police or fire departments,” said Sam Rosenberry, Public Works lead for the city’s water department. “We’ve always helped with the heavy end of it – either in delivering or packing. That’s our job – we’re public works and we help out where it’s needed – whether it’s maintenance or helping somebody else out.”

Once the trucks arrived and were unloaded at the food bank, volunteers searched through the donations for holiday-related foods, Bowen said. From there, baskets were filled with holiday dinner basics that included potatoes and gravy, stuffing, celery, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, yams, fruit cocktail, marshmallows, dinner rolls and pie fillings with crusts. The food banks also offered each family their choice of a ham or turkey.

Bowen said most of the recipients were able to pick up their food Dec. 22 and 23, despite inclement weather.

“In a little way, the bad roads kept some people back,” he said. “But most people found a way to get here – either by carpooling or calling ahead to let us know that someone else would be picking up for them.”

Rosenberry voiced appreciation for the work of his employees, along with the students’ hard work.

“It’s great,” he said. “It’s the holiday season. Everybody feels good about helping out and giving – they delivered a lot. The kids deserve most of the credit – it was their effort to gather it all up. We’re just the deliverers.”

Bowen also expressed gratitude for the success of the food drive.

“The students’ work is phenomenal,” he said.

Reach Judy Halone at or 360-802-8210.

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