Stuffing a bus to serve the kids

Above: Culinary students Joe Russo and Cayden Stout help their teacher Julia Westbrook, center, unpack newly donated supplies from the Stuff-a-Bus event. (Photo by Stephanie Blair) Below: Students of Julia Westbrook at Taft High were surprised with a plethora of new supplies for their cooking endeavors on Sept. 10. (Photo courtesy of the Lincoln County School District)

Lincoln City Outlets, community donate supplies to Taft’s culinary program

LINCOLN CITY — The 21st annual Stuff-a-Bus event was the biggest yet, raising thousands of dollars for school supplies to be donated to local schools. The event is organized by Business for Excellence in Youth, a nonprofit based out of Lincoln City, and sponsored by the Lincoln City Outlets. In addition to distributing supplies across the county, the Stuff-a-Bus team also provided $1,300 worth of cooking equipment to the award-winning Taft High culinary class.

“It’s going to take us all day to organize it,” culinary instructor Julia Westbrook said on the day the supplies arrived, “but it’s a good thing, so it’ll be kind of fun. It’s kind of like Christmas.”

This particular donation came in two parts: one from Kitchen Collection and the other from the Lincoln City Outlets as a whole.

“This year, Lincoln City Outlets connected with Kitchen Collection in hopes of receiving items for the culinary class at Taft High School … Kitchen Collection came through with over $1,000 worth of knives, cutting boards, mixing bowls and cooking thermometers,” explained Sharyn Jasmer, marketing manager for the Lincoln City Outlets. “When Lincoln City Outlets heard the class needed saucepans, squeeze bottles and various other items, we contributed another $300 to get each kitchen station outfitted for the year.”

For Westbrook’s classes, this is going to make a big impact. The kinds of supplies donated from the event make it so that all students not only can use their own materials, but new materials. Items like knives, squeeze bottles, pans and cutting boards are worn down quickly by the many students who use them daily in the classroom. Not to mention, it can be difficult to find funding to replace those everyday items.

“We have grant money, but we can’t buy — this is what they call ‘consumables’ — we wouldn’t be able to buy any of that,” said Westbrook.

When asked what he was most excited about from the haul of new supplies, 12th-grader Cayden Stout had a surprising answer: “Probably the pink Himalayan sea salt,” said Stout, a third-year culinary student. He shared that it’s the key to making powdered mashed potatoes really sing.

However, another exciting thing for him is simply having enough knives for the large class sizes the culinary classes are seeing this year.

“It’s going to make so much of a difference,” said Stout, “because we have so many new people coming in this year — which we’re so excited to see, but we were really under (stocked) on everything.”

“We are passionate about the community we live in and serve,” said Jasmer. “Providing the necessary tools for helping this class to succeed was a joy … We are so proud of our center's efforts, we can't wait for Stuff-A-Bus 22 in 2020!”

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