For Phyllis Shaughnessy, the Copalis Beach great-grandmother who founded the non-profit, all-volunteer Green Lantern Lunches program that feeds hundreds of needy North Coast children, the smile on her face matches the twinkle in her eyes as she explains the simple, sweet satisfaction that continues to fuel this labor of love she felt compelled to launch five summers ago:
“It brings joy to your heart to hear the kids shout, ‘Here comes the Lunch Lady’ when they see your car coming toward them.”
The program begins its fifth summer on Friday, June 21, and volunteers expect to deliver free lunches on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to more than 600 area kids until school resumes in September. The idea has always been to help feed, during the summer, the large percentage of North Beach School District students who qualify to receive free or reduced-price meals at school during the school year.
As they did last year, teams of volunteer packers will assemble three mornings weekly at a garage built for the purpose next to Shaughnessy’s home in the tiny coastal community. They will fill up hundreds of lunch bags, each containing a two-day lunch supply and occasionally a few extras. More volunteers will load up their cars or trucks and deliver to four routes, Ocean Shores, Copalis Beach to Copalis Crossing, Pacific Beach to Taholah, and Humptulips.
By last summer’s end, 660 two-day lunch bags were being delivered three times weekly, for a total of 38,299 free lunches over 10 weeks, by far the biggest summer yet.
In April, fliers with simple sign up information for this year’s program went out to all students at Ocean Shores Elementary, Pacific Beach Elementary and North Beach Jr./Sr. High Schools. There is no deadline to sign up and usually, as word spreads, more and more names and addresses are added to each route.
“As we get ready to start another summer program we are again asking for the support of the community/volunteers/donations/drivers and good wishes,” Shaughnessy said. “If you can help us in any of the areas mentioned, we would greatly appreciate it.”
She encourages people to “come see and experience it first hand so you can really know what it’s about,” because she knows Green Lantern Lunch volunteers, particularly the drivers who present the lunch bags to eager youngsters, usually describe it as a fulfilling, even thrilling, experience. Kinsey Schneider, one of the program coordinators, said they currently need more of both drivers and packers.
There are several ways to sign up kids, volunteer, donate and get more information. Schneider can be reached at 425-922-0051. Shaughnessy can be reached at 360-289-2971 and email@example.com. Information can be found online through the Facebook page, Green Lantern Lunches, and at the website, www.greenlanternlunches.org.