ARLINGTON — The Safeway store in downtown Arlington had a few extra helpers on Saturday, Dec. 1, as the Arlington High School DECA club held its annual winter takeover.
AHS DECA members wore blue shirts reading “DECA is my sport” to identify them, but other than that they could have easily passed for any number of Safeway employees.
The purpose of the takeover is to expose the students to the experience of working in a retail environment. Each student was assigned to a position within the store and rotated to a new position every 30 minutes so that everyone got a chance to try out the various positions which included customer service, delicatessen, bakery, grocery bagger, greeter, stocker and more.
“Safeway is a national sponsor of DECA and it’s a great asset for students to be able to get in the store and get these skills,” said Tyler Payne, DECA adviser. “It opens their eyes to the retail environment and they get to check out what it’s like to work at Safeway.”
Melody Bruns is a freshman at AHS who has only been in the DECA club for a few months. She served as a greeter by the door on Saturday afternoon.
“I joined DECA because I heard it’s really fun,” she said. “This Safeway takeover is fun too, because it exposes us to what we might be getting into.”
Bruns’ classmate Jacob Olson is also a freshman who participated in the event.
“I joined DECA because I want to get into business after I graduate,” said Olson. “My favorite part about the takeover is learning about all the different positions.”
While taking over the store, the students also accepted donations of food and money as part of Santa’s Helpers, a partnership between DECA and the Arlington Food Bank that brings meals and toys to families in need during the holidays.
“This year there are 44 families that we are helping,” said Payne. “We have three weeks to accept donations of food and groceries, and on top of that we have McTeacher’s Night and all the money from that goes to Santa’s Helpers as well.”
McTeacher’s Night is an event similar to the Safeway takeover, though rather than students as employees at Safeway, it features Arlington teachers serving at McDonald’s/Chevron.
Just after noon during the takeover, the DECA students had already raised roughly $200 in cash donations and filled two-thirds of a truck bed with groceries.
“Our goal for the entire drive is 15,000 food and groceries items, and $5,000 in monetary donations,” said Payne.
The students stood at the door of the building to gather donations and offer cocoa to customers. They gathered 1,454 food and grocery items, and more than $500 in cash donations during the takeover.
“Collecting donations is important because there are a lot of families struggling because of the economy,” said Bruns. “I think it’s great that we can help them out.”
“It’s important to help out families that are less fortunate than ours,” he said.
The students are still collecting donations and will sort, stack and box food on Dec. 17. After that, they will use the cash to go shopping for the families they adopted and will wrap up presents for pick-up or delivery on Dec. 20.
For more information about DECA or to donate to Santa’s Helpers, contact Payne at 360-618-6300.