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Successful Fundraiser Staged For Sober Grad Night Effort
Volunteers Kenny Taggart, foreground, and Steve Lewis were at the grill on Saturday morning, cooking up the tri tip for the annual Escalon High School Sober Grad drive-thru tri tip dinner. The event was staged at a new location, the Escalon Presbyterian Church on First Street. Marg Jackson/The Times

Better than last year, the annual Escalon High School Sober Grad tri tip drive-thru dinner went off well this past weekend.

Coordinator Renee Snow said she was overwhelmed by the positive response from the community and grateful for the support of many businesses.

With more than 220 dinner tickets sold, Snow said they easily surpassed last year’s sales of 145 dinners.

The meal for four was a ‘to go’ meal, as it always has been, and proceeds will support the Sober Grad night event for graduating seniors.

Included was a seasoned, barbecued whole tri tip, four baked potatoes, a bag of salad, a loaf of French bread and a two-liter bottle of soda.

Snow added that a representative of the Azores Band came by and dropped off a check while preparations for the dinner were underway on Saturday morning.

“They contributed a huge amount,” Snow said of the local musical organization making a straight cash donation to the effort.

FoodMaxx gave a good deal for the salad and bread, while Save Mart provided most of the meat, again at a good price, said Snow, with additional tri tips from the local MarVal also given at a good value.

Snow said because of the current uncertainty surrounding plans for graduation at the end of the school year, she couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

“It was hard, because you couldn’t tell people it (the money for a ticket) will actually be used for a Sober Grad event,” she admitted.

If there cannot be an in person Sober Grad party, the funds raised will go directly to the graduating seniors, in the form of gift cards, That is how the fundraiser money was distributed to the class of 2020, with each senior getting a gift card.

“We also had lots of families donating,” Snow said of procuring over 200 two-liter bottles of soda for the drive-thru dinner.

Serving as the grill masters were Steve Lewis, John Lial and Kenny Taggart, with several parent volunteers also helping out with prep work and food delivery. Among those joining Snow in the effort were Tracy Gaffney, Jennifer Miller and Melody Murray. EHS alum Alexis Gaffney assisted with the dinner as well and current students taking part included seniors Molly Bergen and Alexis Barron, as well as J.P. Lial, E.J. Lewis and Sebastian Snow.

“We also want to thank Trinity Church for again allowing us to use their barbecue,” Snow said.

This year, the location was changed from El Portal Middle School to the Escalon Presbyterian Church on First Street, as the school district site could not be used.

“We want to thank the Presbyterian Church; everything else with the dinner was the same, we just had to change the location,” Snow said.

The drive-thru event had a 90-minute window for pick-up of the dinners, allowing for a smooth traffic flow through the church parking lot along First Street.

This file photo from 2021 shows Sober Grad tri tip drive-thru dinner coordinator Renee Snow, left, getting the bags ready to load up with the family meal for four, with assistance from parent helper Tracy Gaffney, back left, and EHS alum Alexis Gaffney, at right.