Good Cheer Food Bank customers waiting for a ride home now have a new place to sit and take shelter from the weather thanks to a young philanthropist and boy scout.
Brandon Fenton, a 17-year-old Snohomish resident, recently built the 4-foot by 4-foot by 7-foot covered bench for the food bank on Bayview Road. The service project was a prerequisite for attaining the rank of “eagle” — that’s like a black belt for scouts — and was his last major project with Troop 91 as club membership is for boys 17 and younger.
Fenton said it took a few years to complete, but that he was happy to do it. Giving back to the community is gratifying, and he encouraged other young people to consider service projects of their own.
“It’s fun,” he said.
In this case, it’s also useful. Carol Squire, who recently replaced Kathleen McLaughlin McCabe as executive director for Good Cheer, said many who visit the food bank don’t have cars. They either wait outside for a ride from friends or at the end of Grimm Road for the bus. The new shelter will provide shade in the summer, and a place to duck from the wind and rain in the winter.
“It certainly will be a relief for people who are holding groceries and waiting for a ride home,” Squire said.
Last year, the food bank served 837 families per month; that includes a total of 576 seniors, 986 infants and children, and 2,081 adults. On average, it gives away about 600,000 pounds of food annually.
Though Fenton lives off-island, his roots on South Whidbey go back several generations. His great grandparents, grandparents and mother are all from South Whidbey. He’s a regular visitor to the island. He’s also no stranger to helping out at the food bank. Two years ago, he assisted with a food drive, making up flyers and passing them around the area. The effort paid off, said Fenton’s father, John Fenton.
“We must have had two truckloads of food,” he said. “It was so cool.”
Fenton’s grandfather, longtime Sunlight Beach resident Mike Harper, assisted with the project. He helped with inspiration and technical expertise. His other late grandfather, John Fenton’s dad, was also a source of inspiration. He died this year and the Fenton’s decided to dedicate the shelter to him.
Other scouts from Fenton’s trip also assisted, as did Hanson’s Building Supply in Bayview; the store donated all the lumber. But it was Fenton who had to do all the work, from asking for the donation to coming up with the design, John Fenton said.
“I’m so proud of him,” said the beaming father on Thursday when the shelter was installed.
Shawn Nowlin of Good Cheer said Fenton did a nice job, that the structure “looks great” and will be put to good use. She said a gravel path will be put in soon leading to the bus stop.