Erik Holtrop and Caden Habner help a resident with milk and meat at the Sequim Food Bank. The two became better friends through volunteering there, and Holtrop encourages people to call or visit if they need help because the facility has “plenty of food.” Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Erik Holtrop and Caden Habner help a resident with milk and meat at the Sequim Food Bank. The two became better friends through volunteering there, and Holtrop encourages people to call or visit if they need help because the facility has “plenty of food.” Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Teens continue keep Sequim Food Bank’s Saturday tradition going

Volunteers say they like sense of community, helping out

After a week of school, through inclement weather and even during a pandemic, a revolving group of Sequim teens continue to keep the tradition of helping at the Sequim Food Bank.

For about 10 years, Stephen Rosales, a Sequim Food Bank board member, has turned Saturdays over to a group of dedicated students to check in residents and distribute food.

Sequim High Class of 2020 graduates-to-be Gabby Happe, 18, and Abbee Jagger, 18, said helping feels good and that it reminds them about how fortunate they are.

“It (shows me) a reality that not everyone has the necessities,” Happe said. “It makes me feel grateful.”

Logan Laxson, 17, knows something about gratefulness, too, as he volunteered at the Sequim Food Bank on what would have been the second day of the Sequim Irrigation Festival. In March, Laxson was one of four students selected for the Irrigation Festival’s Royalty court, but festival events were later postponed due to COVID-19 group gathering regulations. The festival is now scheduled for Oct. 2-11.

“It’s rough not to have a festival, but it could be worse,” Laxson said, donning his crown and a protective mask at the food bank on May 2.

“I’ll get a festival in October.”

Laxson has helped on Saturdays since September following the suggestion of a friend.

“It’s a community here,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling to see the same faces.”

Sixteen-year-old JoNell Hill has helped on Saturdays since she was 8 because Rosales is her neighbor and had encouraged her to help out.

“I love connecting with people,” Hill said.

With the food bank switching to a drive-thru, she now helps where needed instead of the front counter. She’s continued to help because she sees the need people have for necessities.

“It helps change their day so they can put food on the table,” Hill said.

Twelfth-grader Caden Habner, 18, is the longest-tenured student volunteer, working there since fourth grade. It’s been a family effort over the years with his sister Alyssa and brother Logan volunteering there, too.

Habner, who will receive an Associate of Arts degree through Peninsula College’s Running Start program, and a high school diploma from Sequim High, said it’s hard to recall a Saturday he missed unless he was sick.

Habner takes online courses and said his routine of coming on Saturdays remains the same.

“Other than the new system (drive-thru), it’s routine; it’s nice,” he said.

Last Saturday, Habner partnered with Erik Holtrop, 17, a junior and volunteer for about a year. Holtrop said he and Caden became better friends through the food bank, and while the food bank hasn’t been as busy since the pandemic, he encouraged people to drive through, or call if they need support.

“People should feel comfortable to come to the food bank,” Holtrop said. “We have plenty of food (and there’s) no judgment.”

The food bank opens 9 a.m.-noon Fridays and Saturdays, and 1-4 p.m. Mondays.

For more information, visit www.sequimfoodbank.com.

Deliveries on Mondays are available by calling 360-683-1205 throughout the week and before 9 a.m. each Monday.

Brianna Cowan, a Sequim High School Class of 2020 graduate-to-be, helps load vegetables for residents visiting the Sequim Food Bank on May 2. She and many other teens continue to volunteer on Saturdays to help the community. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Brianna Cowan, a Sequim High School Class of 2020 graduate-to-be, helps load vegetables for residents visiting the Sequim Food Bank on May 2. She and many other teens continue to volunteer on Saturdays to help the community. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Grant Pierson, a Sequim High graduate and Westpoint student, helps load a vehicle with food. He volunteered at the Sequim Food Bank on May 2 while he’s home from school. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Grant Pierson, a Sequim High graduate and Westpoint student, helps load a vehicle with food. He volunteered at the Sequim Food Bank on May 2 while he’s home from school. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

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