Looking to give back to their community, three Gig Harbor teens are working to bring local nonprofit Charlie’s Dinosaur into Gig Harbor to reach underprivileged students within the Peninsula School District.
Gig Harbor High School juniors Dacre Folden, 16, and Anthony Lusk, 16, along with Bellarmine Prep junior Austin Mallavia, 16, first heard about Charlie’s Dinosaur through Dacre’s father, Rich, a Pierce County Sheriff’s detective.
After contacting Evergreen Elementary Principal Hugh Maxwell, the teens raised money at a summertime golf fundraiser to purchase new coats for the school’s annual clothing drive.
It’s really neat to be able to affect your community and give back. I like seeing kids happy, the look on their faces. I knew I could make a difference.
“It’s really neat to be able to affect your community and give back,” Dacre said. “I like seeing kids happy, the look on their faces. I knew I could make a difference.”
Charlie’s Dinosaur is a nonprofit organization created in memory for Charlie and Braden Powell, who were killed by their father, Josh Powell, in 2012.
The organization was inspired by a drawing by Charlie and started with a partnership between Pierce County Sheriff detectives and the boys’ family. It’s dedicated to helping foster kids and underprivileged youth in Pierce County.
The tragic story is one that the teens volunteering with Charlie’s Dinosaur remember as it unfolded in their community.
“It kind of hit home,” Anthony said, remembering that, at the time, he was not much older than Charlie and Braden. “Something like that happening in Pierce County kind of stuck with me.”
The teens focused their first volunteer event at Evergreen Elementary because of the high need level in the surrounding community for support.
“Our school is the highest poverty school in the district,” Maxwell explained. “A lot of time we have students who need clothing and coats coming up on the winter time.”
We’re really thankful that they reached out to us. We always love working with the community. We’re always so thankful when people in the community reach out to us and support our students.
Hugh Maxwell, Evergreen Elementary principal
With free and reduced lunches at more than 60 percent, clothing drives and other community support events are traditions at the school.
“It meets such a need,” Maxwell said. “What a great way for people who have either outgrown clothes or no longer have a use for their clothing … that they’re not just hanging in the closet but that they’re being put to good use.”
The 50 new coats provided by Dacre, Anthony and Austin through Charlie’s Dinosaur will meet an ever present need for Evergreen students as part of Evergreen’s clothing drive underway this week.
“We’ll be adding a lot more than what would be there,” Dacre said.
It’s a really rewarding experience. The kids get to choose the jacket they’ll want. We all see this community develop. We want to give back to the community with some good outreach.
Community support and partnerships remain important to Evergreen Elementary to better support its students and families, Maxwell said.
“We’re really thankful that they reached out to us. We always love working with the community,” he said. “We’re always so thankful when people in the community reach out to us and support our students.”
For the teens, this is one way for them to give back to their community.
“It’s a really rewarding experience. The kids get to choose the jacket they’ll want,” Anthony added. “We all see this community develop. We want to give back to the community with some good outreach.”
Information, including directions for donations can be found online at susancoxpowellfoundation.net/information/charlies-dinosaur.