Box lunch program earns thousands for student programs

Readiness to Learn volunteers help prepare box lunches for a fundraiser last Wednesday morning. The organization sold 371 lunches in all

The Readiness to Learn Foundation raised more than $3,700 with its annual Box Lunch program this week.

Hailing the sale a success, organization director Gail LaVassar said it not only brought attention to the foundation and earned money for its programs but also fed hungry workers across South Whidbey and brought people together.

“It’s as much of a fundraiser as it is a community awareness event; everybody comes together,” LaVassar said.

The fundraiser works by selling lunches for $10. This year, a total of 371 ham, turkey or veggie wraps were prepared — salads were also offered, and each meal came with a water, cookie and chips — and delivered to businesses from Clinton to Freeland. The largest deliveries went to Nichols Brothers Boat Builders and Ace Hardware in Freeland, and the South Whidbey School District in Langley.

The food was donated by Eating for Charity, a quiet organization led by Joanie Smith, president of the Whidbey Island Eagles. She serves dinners at the club, and then donates the revenues to a different charity each month. This month it went to the Readiness to Learn Foundation; Smith also cooked all the food on Tuesday so volunteers could come in Wednesday and make it into wraps.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Smith, adding that the Eagles donated the work space and that the effort couldn’t be done without the club’s help.

Once the food was cooked, it was wrapped to order by a small but dedicated team of volunteers. Many were members of St. Hubert Catholic Church in Langley, such as Miki O’Brien, a Sunlight Beach resident.

O’Brien has volunteered for the Box Lunch program since its inception in 2003. She likes the people involved and it’s a great way to make new friends, she said.

“And the purpose is marvelous,” O’Brien said.

She had eight children so she enthusiastically supports programs that help students.

At its height, the Box Lunch program served up to 1,000 and ran successfully until 2009 when foundation decision makers put the program on hold. It was restarted last year.

Money raised from this year’s fundraiser is put toward other foundation programs, such as the Family Resource Center, after school programs, and Resources for the Homeless.

LaVassar said the foundation plans to hold another Box Lunch this fall and hopes to recruit more volunteers to help with the sales. For details, call 360-221-6808 ext. 4321.