There’s always room at the table

The tables were decked out with festive plastic tablecloths and centerpieces. The guests feasted on turkey and all the trimmings as a crew of Olympic High School students, parents and USS John C. Stennis sailors served an early Thanksgiving dinner Tuesday Nov. 22 at the Eagles Hall in Bremerton.

The 15th annual Outreach Dinner led by the DECA and Marketing students, had served about 100 meals in its first half hour after the doors opened at 10 a.m. While the meal was aimed at the area’s needy who might not otherwise have Thanksgiving, anyone who walked in the door was offered the chance to sit and break bread.

Stennis cooks prepared the 75 turkeys gobbled up at the dinner, which served about 3,100 meals. Food drives and donations brought in 40,000 pounds of canned food.

Other crew members volunteered at the event.

“We just came out to give a little back to the community,” said Airman Apprentice Antonio Moorman of Maryland.

He, with a few of his shipmates, greeted guests as they came in the door and kept the crowd under control.

At a nearby table, OHS sophomore Chelsea Harrington gave out bags filled with toiletries, an aspect of the event that began two years ago.

“It just feels really great that I’m helping the community,” she said. The mini-shampoo bottles, nail files, soaps and other items were gathered by the Students Against Violence Everywhere group.

While this was Harrington’s first year to help with the dinner, senior Barbie Morris is a three-year veteran of the event. This year she was the general manager.

“I’ve lived in Bremerton my whole life. I’ve seen what it can get like around the holidays,” she said. As the Outreach Dinner overseer, Morris is bombarded with questions and must sift through the chaos to get the answers. For the most part the event went smoothly on her watch Morris said.

This is also marketing teacher and DECA adviser Ron Cochrell’s last year to oversee the event. After 32 years of teaching, 29 of which has been with the Central Kitsap School District, he is retiring. The dinner is just one of the ways his students learn that “A good business person gives as much back to the community as they take out,” he said.

The dinner idea originated with one of his students and evolved to include giving away clothing, non-perishable food and toiletries. One student came up with the idea to separate the non perishable food into those that need a stove to cook and those that don’t.

“They come up with the ideas. That just really shows caring on their part,” Cochrell said.

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