Volunteer’s birthday gifts just keep on giving

Loretta Wilson and Kathy McLaughlin

Once a Hometown Hero, always a hometown hero.

Loretta Wilson of Greenbank continued her philanthropic ways when she donated to Good Cheer Food Bank all the gifts she received at her recent 80th birthday bash attended by more than 100 family and friends.

“Once a person reaches this age, it’s been there, done that,” Wilson said Friday. “That’s kind of where I’m at. There’s nothing more I need.”

Wilson was the Record’s Hometown Hero for June 2008 in recognition of the many things she does and continues to do for the South Whidbey community.

When her birthday rolled around this year, Wilson instructed daughter Jill McLean, who was planning the party, to urge guests to bring food and cash, which she could then turn over to the food bank.

She said she knows from personal experience that people often feel uncomfortable being invited to a birthday party and being asked not to bring gifts.

“We asked people to bring a couple items of nonperishable food, and that’s what we got,” Wilson said. “We hope others will think the same way when they’re celebrating something — bring a couple of cans in a pretty little bag.”

Altogether, Wilson delivered a small SUV load of food and $180 in cash to Good Cheer executive director Kathy McLaughlin.

“Good Cheer is so blessed to have a volunteer like Loretta,” McLaughlin said Friday. “She’s always thinking about ways she can help the community.”

Wilson remains actively committed to the people of the South End. She volunteers three hours per week at the Readiness to Learn Foundation’s Family Resource Center at South Whidbey schools, and is there with baked goods and other items for St. Hubert Catholic Church bazaars in Langley and for Hearts & Hammers.

Each Wednesday, she works in the Good Cheer garden at Bayview.

“She continues to amaze and contribute to the quality of life and caring that we call ‘island living,’” her daughter said.

And Wilson doesn’t expect to stop doing it anytime soon, just because she turned 80.

“It’s been fun getting here,” she said. “I hope I have a few more years.”