Sanders Corner Elementary School transformed into an Italian-style restaurant after-hours Wednesday evening to serve dinner to families impacted by the federal government shutdown.
The families of about 60 students came and ate their fill of spaghetti, garlic bread, and baked goods—all made possible through the work of school staff members and donations from the local business community.
The idea for hosting a family-style dinner for the school community came to Sanders Corner music teacher Shauna Olevson while she was watching news coverage of the federal government shutdown.
“We have a lot of families in our school who struggle all the time, and many who were affected by the government shutdown,” she said. “I thought, I have all of these resources, why don’t I just do something about it.”
With the help of Sanders Corner’s parent liaison Holly Hanback and guidance counselor Mollie Wilson, Olevson raised $1,300 in a few days. The school staff cooked and served the food, with fifth-graders Cooper Leurs and Calvin Balda also rolling up their sleeves to help out.
Abhishek Sharma, a parent of a kindergartener and a government contractor, said he came straight from the office because he didn’t want to miss family dinner night.
“It’s really great,” he said. “We’ve never come across such a thing”
Olevson said the dinner was made possible by the generous support of several sponsors, including the Sanders Corner PTA, Modern Mechanical, Ashburn Volunteer Fire-Rescue, MainStreet Bank, Ashburn Rotary, and Galilee Church in Sterling.
The money raised and donated was more than enough to cover the dinner.
“We have enough to do two or three more of these,” Olevson said. “The feedback was really positive and it was really nice to see people not having to worry about dinner for their whole family for a night.”
Thousands of federal employees forwent a salary for more than a month, and some are still awaiting back pay. Congress and the president agreed to temporarily reopen and fund the federal government until Feb. 15, in hopes they will come to an agreement on border security measures by that date.