WELLSBURG - On a day they might have spent watching television, playing video games or shopping, Brooke High School students and staff were serving.
And that's meant literally, as they served up dishes of spaghetti and meatballs, salad and cake for a free dinner open to the entire community.
It was the fourth year for the Break Bread with the Bruins dinner held in honor of Martin Luther King Day, and many of the teens and adults behind it were involved more than the few hours in which it was held.
SERVING OTHERS — Gabe Casto, left, a Brooke High School junior from Wellsburg, ladles some sauce onto a plate of pasta to be delivered by Luc Pannett, a junior from Weirton, to one of the many attending a community dinner held at the school in observance of Martin Luther King Day Monday. -- Warren Scott
Toni Shute, the school's principal, said many students arrived at 11 a.m. to help set up tables and before 5 p.m., 124 meals were delivered to area nursing homes and housing complexes for senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Mick Mullen, leader of Vets for Veterans, revealed that Shute and her husband, Bob, were at the school on Sunday preparing 32 gallons of spaghetti sauce.
The veterans group, which regularly visits veterans in nursing homes, has received contributions from groups at the high school over the years, and three years ago volunteered to help in the kitchen to show its appreciation.
Kylie Greathouse of Wellsburg, who is secretary of the school's senior class, said no one student organization is behind the annual dinner.
"We're all from different groups. There's sports teams, clubs," she said.
Greathouse said the event was begun her freshman year and she didn't want to miss this year's.
It may not be the last year for her to participate, however, if she follows the example of Valerie Peterson of Windsor Heights.
The 2013 Brooke graduate, now a student at West Virginia Northern Community College, returned to her alma mater to help.
"I thought they needed help and I really enjoyed it when I took part in the past," Peterson said.
It was the first year for Gabe Casto, a junior from Wellsburg, who said he turned out this year because "It sounded like it would be fun to do."
Shute said while last year's event was supported by a grant, she and other organizers relied on many local contributions to hold this year's dinner.
The Wellsburg Kroger store and Gus's Goodies of Weirton supplied food for the dinner. Monetary donations came from many sources, including the law firm of Frankovitch, Anetakis, Colantonio and Simon; the law firm of Nogay, Sellitti and McCune; NC Sportz, Vito's 2 and C.A.B. Technologies and Printing Solutions.
Shute said the motive for the dinner is to underscore for students the value of helping others and by reaching out to many, it may feed someone who hasn't had a hot meal in a while.
Many attending said they just appreciated not having to cook for a night, adding they enjoyed gathering with other area residents.
"We come every year. It's a really well organized event. It's a nice thing Toni and her kids have been doing," said Judy VanDyke of Wellsburg, who attended with her husband, Wayne.
LaVerne and Jim Sutak of Follansbee said it was their first year to attend and they were very pleased with the food and the pleasant atmosphere, with old friends and new acquaintances stopping to chat.
LaVerne noted her granddaughter, Michaela Hinerman, and other volunteer students were wearing stickers bearing King's image.
Shute noted King once remarked that "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)