Port first winner of state-wide food bank challenge

Late last year, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, the Port of Orcas entered a competition with other Washington airports to see who could collect the most donated food — donations that would benefit the airports’ local food banks. T

he brainchild of several board members of the Washington State Passport Program — a program that encourages pilots to visit small airports within the state — the competition included 15 airports from Bremerton to Auburn to Bellingham. But it was the Port of Orcas that took home the prize, for collecting more than 500 pounds of food donated to the Orcas Food Bank.

“The Port of Orcas has set a high bar,” offered Tim Mensonides, airport manager at Auburn Municipal Airport and current president of the Passport Program. “They’re going to be hard to beat next year!”

For the Port’s winning efforts, airport manager Jeannie Sharp was presented with a stunning wooden sculpture, hand-carved by Josh Lekkerkerker of Precision Approach Engineering, one of the Passport program’s many partners.

Over 1,400 pounds of food was collected and donated through the passport program’s competition, according to Max Platts, a planner with the aviation division of the Washington Dept. of Transportation and a Passport Program board member.

“Airports all over Washington participated in our first food drive,” he said and he looks forward to even greater participation next year. “We’re going to start collecting a bit earlier this year so Orcas may have some stiff competition.”

Orcas Airport Manager Sharp isn’t worried about losing possession of the traveling award.

“Orcas Island is a tremendously generous community,” she grinned. “We have no intention of giving up this beautiful award and intend to see ORC (the airport’s call letters) listed as the winner for years to come.”

In the meantime, the wood-carved award, with a light that glows when the propeller is spun, graces Sharp’s desk at the airport.

“It looks comfortable,” she said. “It just looks like it belongs here.”