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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  K-12 education

Spokane Valley Tech students dedicate day of volunteering to veterans

Zach Cifrese, left, and Jamison Wyatt volunteer filling grab-and-go food bags at Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank on Nov. 10, 2021. Cifrese and Wyatt were among Spokane Valley Tech students who dedicated their volunteer work to veterans on the day before Veterans Day.  (Nina Culver/For The Spokesman-Review)
Zach Cifrese, left, and Jamison Wyatt volunteer filling grab-and-go food bags at Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank on Nov. 10, 2021. Cifrese and Wyatt were among Spokane Valley Tech students who dedicated their volunteer work to veterans on the day before Veterans Day. (Nina Culver/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The day before Veterans Day, 160 students from Spokane Valley Tech fanned out across Spokane and Spokane Valley to complete a wide variety of service projects and volunteer work.

“In honor of Veterans Day and their service to the country, we are doing service to the community,” said Principal Katie Louie.

The day of service idea came from the school’s leadership students, who called various community organizations to see if they could use a group of students for a few hours.

“Our leadership students basically cold-called places,” Louie said. “This was really their idea. Our seniors had done this before and really wanted to do it again.”

The students spread out to 13 different organizations. Students could select where they wanted to volunteer, Louie said. “They’re in small groups with a staff member just all over today,” she said. “Our teachers believe in this and think this is a great opportunity, so they gave up a day of instruction time.”

Freshmen Zach Cifrese and Jamison Wyatt went to the Spokane Valley Partners food bank. They were given supplies to pack grab-and-go food bags to be distributed to the homeless. They and the other students in the group quickly set up an assembly line and worked efficiently, stopping only to replenish supplies.

“We were getting really low on these,” said food bank manager Justine Carlisle. “This is a great help.”

The students also spent part of the day sorting clothes for the clothing bank and packing boxes of food to be shipped to the Central Valley School District’s new Safe Center, which operates a food bank in partnership with Spokane Valley Partners. “It’s great,” said Carlisle. “They’re getting a lot of stuff done.”

Wyatt said he wasn’t sure what Spokane Valley Partners was all about until he arrived.

“There’s a lot of people in need,” he said. “There’s ways to help our community.”

Sophomore Karis Townley said she’s had family members use food banks and enjoyed being able to see how a food bank works behind the scenes.

“It’s kind of cool to see inside and how it’s set up,” she said.

She also enjoyed working in the community with some of her classmates. “I just like helping out,” she said. “I think it’s really cool. The teamwork is pretty good.”

Other students spent the day helping build a Habitat for Humanity home in Deer Park. Some worked with Spokane Riverkeepers to clean up trash along the north bank of Spokane River near Sullivan Park. Another group went to Meals on Wheels in downtown Spokane and packed up 500 meals and wrapped holiday gifts for clients.

“We probably filled 350-plus quart-sized baggies of cat and dog food, lots of gallon bags of Kitty Litter, then the kids worked through the gift wrapping until they ran out of boxes, boxed up meals until they had no more to pack,” said teacher Sal Lorenzen. “Now we’re folding clothes and cleaning the parking lot.”

Another group of students went to Second Harvest and sorted through 1,000 pounds of pears to determine which could be bagged for distribution and which had spoiled and needed to be donated to a pig farm.

Students at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center food bank stocked shelves, prepared boxes of food and loaded them into the cars of clients who came for assistance.

Some students never left the Spokane Valley Tech Building. One group organized donated coats for a Coats for Kids distribution, and another group made 63 fleece blankets to be donated.

Louie said she thought the day of community service went well.

“We’re very proud of them,” she said.

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Nina Culver can be reached at nculver47@gmail.com.

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