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Helping those in need

Members of the Charter House Chatter Club (from left) Ardyth Mason, Bobbie Smith, Geneva Iuerger, Bettie Willingham, and Donna Runge, display the goods they have donated to the Bremerton Food Line. - Photo by Summer Watterson
Members of the Charter House Chatter Club (from left) Ardyth Mason, Bobbie Smith, Geneva Iuerger, Bettie Willingham, and Donna Runge, display the goods they have donated to the Bremerton Food Line.
— image credit: Photo by Summer Watterson

It started as a social club in an apartment complex, but turned into a way for the residents to help those in need by donating about 700 pounds of food to the community.

Eight months ago Alice “Bobbie” Smith, 90, began the Charter House Chatter Club in the Charter House Apartments in Bremerton.

The club was originally a meet-once-a-month social club for the residents, but they decided they wanted to do something for Bremerton. They all agreed to collect food for Bremerton Food Line, operating under the slogan “Don’t quit giving because hunger doesn’t.”

“(We) can’t do a whole lot, we can’t send in large checks,” Smith said. “Ninety percent of the people here do give.”

Smith said she hangs all of the receipts in the apartment’s lobby as a thank you to the people who give.

Along with food the club has also donated clothes and toys to Bremerton Food Line.

“It makes me very happy to go down and take a look (at what has been donated),” Smith said.

Last month the club gave a total of about 50 pounds of food, 60 pounds of clothes and 55 pounds of toys to the Food Line, said Charter House Assistant Manager Ardyth Mason.

“I think it’s wonderful. It’s a low income (apartment complex), half of us are probably eligible to go to the food bank, instead we contribute,” Mason said. “They just really put their heart into it.”

Bremerton Food Line Executive Director Hoyt Burrows said the Food Line wouldn’t be able to help the people they help without the support of people such as the Chatter Club.

“Seven hundred pounds is not near as much as we give away in a day, but if we didn’t have that we’d be 700 short,” Burrows said.

In November the Bremerton Food Line gave 47,921 pounds of food to 3,454 individuals in 22 days. Burrows said they also gave out 505 Thanksgiving baskets.

In October they gave 35,000 pounds of food to 2,143 people.

One of the reasons Mason said the Charter Club decided to donate to the food bank was everything they donate is given out to those who need it.

Smith also started donating new toys to Food Line for the holiday season, she said, “so the kids will have something that’s new instead of hand me downs.”

The Chatter Club meets once a month to play games or just sit and talk Mason said.

“It’s just something to do on an afternoon or evening. Why just sit there and vegetate?” Mason said. “I really think it helped morale wise and they all feel like they’re doing something to give back.”

Smith has noticed more people talking to each other since the club started.

“We have a pretty good time at our little meetings,” Smith said. She added that donating to Food Line makes them feel proud.

The Charter House is elderly housing, for people 62 and older, subsidized by HUD.

Anybody who is interested in donating to the Bremerton Food Line can leave donations at the Charter House, located at 1307 Wheaton Way, or at the baskets at Grocery Outlet, Good Will or QFC.

Bremerton Food Line accepts donations of food, clothes, household wares and toys.

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