Community's generosity shows during food drives

Coordinated in conjunction with the Monroe Rotary Club Student of the Month program, students from Monroe and Sultan high schools accomplished two successful community-wide food drives during March and part of April.

Altogether, the students collected more than 3 tons of food and raised more than $3,455.

A requirement of the Monroe Rotary Club Student of the Month scholarship program, the annual food drive incorporates an element of community service. Students were given the opportunity to independently organize, plan and execute the food drives and, throughout the process, were assessed based on their level of participation, involvement, leadership and attendance. The scores they achieved will factor in with other criteria during the Rotary's vetting process, in which numerous students will be selected to receive a $1,000 scholarship to a school of their choice.

Students from Sultan High School collected food and raised money for the Volunteers of America Western Washington food bank in Sultan (703 First St.), while Monroe High School students worked to support the Sky Valley Food Bank in Monroe (233 Sky River Pkwy.).

"Both groups were absolutely fantastic to work with,GÇ¥ said Rotary Club Board member Rob Prosch.

Sky Valley Food Bank Executive Director Neil Watkins and Monroe High School senior Riley Woods presented to the Monroe City Council on Tuesday, April 21, providing an overview of the efforts in Monroe.

Riley was responsible for collaborating with the Monroe Police Department, the Monroe Fire Department, Monroe City Hall and the Monroe Parks Department to obtain donations of food and money. In addition to working with city staff to coordinate the different food collection sites at each location, Riley joined other students who spent a Saturday stationed in front of several Monroe grocery stores.

Riley spent time in front of the new Walmart store during the food drive.

"I was really surprised with the amount of generosity that we found there,GÇ¥ Riley said. "I wasn't really sure how we would do being at a new store, but we did well ' especially with cash donations.GÇ¥

Riley, who has been accepted to Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, is looking forward to earning a bachelor's degree in film.

He enjoyed participating in the food drive and felt that it was a great way to serve his community. He appreciated the community's widespread generosity.

"Some of the biggest contributors were people that have been to the food bank before, and so it was cool to see them returning the favor,GÇ¥ Riley said. "It was a cool experience.GÇ¥

The total amount of food and money received collectively from the Monroe Police Department, Monroe City Hall, the Monroe Parks Department and Snohomish County Fire District No. 3 was $315 and 414 pounds of food. When added to the $2,117.62 and 4,224 pounds of food the students collected during their Saturday food drive, the total of food and money donated to the Sky Valley Food Bank was $2,432.62 and 4,638 pounds of food.

Watkins thanked Mayor Geoffrey Thomas and the Monroe City Council members for their support.

"If anybody says, "Tell me about Monroe,' there's a good story to tell about this great town that we live in,GÇ¥ Watkins said. "Thank you all so very much. This speaks volumes, and it's really, really helping us in a very quiet time when it comes to food contributions.GÇ¥

Sultan High School senior Matt Baller is one of the Rotary Students of the Month from Sultan High School. Sultan students collected food at the Sultan Red Apple, the Gold Bar Family Grocer, Haggen in Monroe and Walmart.

"Working for the Rotary food drive was a very rewarding experience,GÇ¥ Baller said. "It showed me a firsthand account of how generous people are to help citizens in their community.GÇ¥

Sultan students raised $1,023 in donations and collected more than 2,000 pounds of food.

"Volunteering during this food drive was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in a long time,GÇ¥ he continued.

Baller, a two-time varsity baseball captain and football player, recently finished eighth at the Washington State Wrestling MAT Classic championships. A 3.9 GPA student, he looks forward to attending Central Washington University this fall.

The Sultan High School Rotary Students of the Month are: Christian Carbajal, Valorie Meischke, Monica Chavez, Alex Buzzell, Matt Baller, Robin Loch, Joseph Low, Mykayla Guyll and Ruth Tess.

The Monroe High School Rotary Students of the Month are: Mitchell Higgins, Bethany Johnson, Kiana Cooley, Jacob Adams, Macey McGovern, Matthew Turner, Riley Woods, Jacob Walker, Kailee Billerbeck, Andrew Johnson, Sara Calder and Torri Pownall.


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