Good Cheer awash in an army of college-student helpers

Trinity Lutheran College students Tiffany Thomas, 18 (left) and Tanya Tarabochia, 18, sort donated clothing in Good Cheer’s distribution center in Bayview on Monday. - Roy Jacobson / The Record
Trinity Lutheran College students Tiffany Thomas, 18 (left) and Tanya Tarabochia, 18, sort donated clothing in Good Cheer’s distribution center in Bayview on Monday.
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / The Record

They were about two hours late, those who didn’t miss the bus or misjudge the ferry, but they showed up ready to work.

More than 40 students of Trinity Lutheran College in Everett came to help out Good Cheer on Monday afternoon as part of the school’s community service program.

The students spent a couple of hours working in the Good Cheer Food Bank garden, the food bank itself, its distribution center and its thrift stores in Langley and Clinton.

Like a swarm of bees, they cleaned floors and windows, moved boxes and racks in the freezer and sorted through a mountain of donated clothing. They pulled weeds and harvested beans in the garden.

That they arrived later than expected didn’t dampen their enthusiasm, nor the food bank’s appreciation.

“Just the fact that we’re doing something to help people is a great feeling,” said Kelsey Peterson, 21, a senior from Seattle, as she dug up a prickly weed and tossed it into a bucket in the garden.

“This is good,” added Tiffany Thomas, 18, a freshman from Portland, Ore., as she sorted through a pile of donated jeans in the nearby distribution center.

“It’s great to have so many volunteers,” said Kathy McLaughlin, Good Cheer executive director. “But it can be an adventure.”

The expeditionary force of student volunteers was arranged by community organizer Lori Cavender of Langley and Good Cheer coordinator of volunteers Carol Ann.

Cavender is an alumni and former employee of the college, and knew of its emphasis on community service.

The school requires a specific number of volunteer hours put in by students throughout their four-year program.

“There’s been a 40-year tradition at the school of doing service as part of the education process,” Cavender said Monday. “This starts them out for the term.”

“This is great,” said Ann. “It gives an added boost to the things the regular volunteers can’t get done.”

“I’m excited,” she added. “And it didn’t rain today.”

Out in the garden, a group of students, several wearing T-shirts with “Ask Me What’s Happening Today” on the back, clustered around garden manager Cary Peterson for expert instruction on picking beans, tending the worm bin or yanking up weeds.

In the distribution center, a dozen volunteers pawed through piles of donated clothing and household items.

Out back, a group of college men stacked more items of clothing on a bench.

No one was slacking off.

“It’s great that the food bank opened its doors to allow these students to give back to the community,” Cavender said.

“Did I say how excited I am?” Ann added.

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