While other kids were squeezing the last bit of fun out of summer, three local kids were making sure a few more families had enough to eat.
Sisters Catie Shidler, 10, and Maggie Shidler, 6, and their friend Kelsey Grunigen, 10, spent their last week before school started raising money for Poulsbo’s Fishline Food Bank. Going door-to-door for donations and washing cars, the trio made more than $110 in three days, which amounted to 250 pounds of food for local families.
Fishline Director Tricia Sullivan remembered the day the girls brought in their food, which took up the back half of the Shidlers’ van.
“The girls were so cute, they just had these big smiles on their faces,” she said.
But the donation also put smiles on the faces of Fishline volunteers. Sullivan said donations were meager this summer and resources were stretched very thin. More food donations are beginning to trickle in now but there’s always new needs just around the bend.
“The school supplies drive went really well and people were really generous but now we’re gearing up for the holidays,” Sullivan said. “And we’re still seeing more people who need help with groceries.”
The girls said the idea to raise money came to them when they were sitting around bored one day. They decided to fill their time by figuring out a way to help the food bank.
Catie and Maggie’s mother Gamze Shidler said her daughters have grown very fond of the local non-profit through volunteer work.
Last school year, the three worked at the food bank on every inservice day the girls had from Vinland Elementary.
“It makes me really proud of them,” Gamze said.
Besides the good feeling from raising the money, the trio said their drive also showed them some of the reality of hunger. First, they said they were surprised by how much work it was to make $110 in food money stretch.
“We were shocked by how much things cost,” Catie said.
Gamze added that working at Fishline, the family has learned a lot about items that are considered a “luxury” to families with less financial resources. Items like cocoa, potato chips and even jelly are a rare treat for some families because they’re simply not as important as staple foods.
“Yep, we take jelly for granted,” Sullivan commented.
Gamze said when the girls took their fund-raising dollars to the store, they toiled for quite a while between cocoa and lunch-sized bags of chips trying to decide which would be more appreciated.
“They were so aware that it was a luxury item,” Gamze said. “When you go grocery shopping with your kids you never think that they pick up on things like that.”
Sullivan said other items that are a high need at Fishline include peanut butter, cereal, meals in a box, laundry detergent and canned vegetables and fruit.
The kids also got to see the kindness of strangers during their drive. Besides their neighbors who gave money and food to their efforts, the girls said an employee named Jake at Poulsbo Market also helped them out. With their last $18, the three went to the local grocery store to buy meat for the Fishline freezers. Realizing what they were doing, Jake donated a box of frozen chicken.
In all, the three said it was hard work to raise money for Fishline, but they’re already thinking up their next project.
When asked what they think they’ll do for the local food bank next, Kelsey answered matter-of-factly, “As much as we can.”