“More potatoes?” Makayla Everitt says with surprise from the small apartment she shares with her four children. She’s on her knees putting cans of beans, Top Ramen and, yes, potatoes into her cupboards.
Standing at the doorway, Gus Lazovsky shrugs his shoulders. The Gonzaga Prep sophomore is holding a 40-pound box of potatoes. More potatoes.
Lazovsky, along with other Gonzaga Prep students, delivered about 110,000 pounds of food throughout Spokane on Wednesday. Some of that food went to families, like Everitt’s, while some went to local food banks.
The Thanksgiving food drive already was a well-established tradition when Gonzaga Prep President Al Falkner started working at the school 43 years ago. Since the mid-1990s the school has collected more than 100,000 pounds of food each year.
“It’s one of my favorite moments of the year,” Falkner said. “Because there is joy everywhere.”
Over the last week, Chase McVay, a sophomore at Gonzaga Prep, collected about 800 pounds of food. On Wednesday he delivered it to the 22 families living in the Summit View Apartments, a low-income apartment building in the West Central neighborhood operated by Catholic Charities of Spokane.
“My favorite part is knocking on the doors and seeing the families,” McVay said. “I know that I’m able to help people.”
For Summit View residents Amy Whiting and Alan Standridge, the food delivery helps them through what would otherwise be an austere holiday season.
“It’s hard this time of the year, so it’s going to help us through Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Whiting said.
The couple has lived in the Summit View Apartments for a year. Prior to that they were homeless. Now they rely completely on Standridge’s job at Burger King. He works there 30 hours a week making minimum wage.
“We once had it all,” Standridge said.
Meeting people like them is one of the main points of the food drive, Falkner said.
“We try to do it as humbly as we can,” he said. “It’s a gift from us to the families, but it’s also a gift from the families to us.”
Hailee Foster, another Gonzaga Prep sophomore, spoke of what the food delivery means to her.
“It really opens your mind to how many people in your own community don’t have as much as you do,” Foster said. “I take a lot of things for granted, just having a roof over my head and food on the table.”
The food drive is an integral part of Gonzaga Prep’s mission of serving others, and Falkner hopes it extends well beyond one week every year.
“These young people will have this sense of service and this sense of giving for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Isaac Henson is a testament to that. The program coordinator for Catholic Charities graduated from Gonzaga Prep in 1982 and participated in the food drive as a student. On Wednesday, Henson watched as students delivered food to the Summit View Apartments.
“It was nice to be able to help those people,” he said.
His experience doing service in high school eventually led him to working for Catholic Charities.
Falkner said the school also gives food to a handful of Gonzaga Prep families who need help. He personally delivered a turkey and a pie Wednesday.
“It’s so important in this world to give and to help and to support,” he said.
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