GREENFIELD — A line made up of hundreds of hungry people stretched from wall to wall of the Greenfield-Central High School cafeteria, and the smell of freshly cooked comfort food wafted through the air.
Visitors enjoyed the wide spread of main courses and desserts offered by more than a dozen vendors, stacking their plates high with slices of pizza, fettuccine Alfredo, chicken wings and more.
In the lobby outside the cafeteria, patrons perused a silent auction featuring a number of big-ticket items, including photography packages, Greenfield-Central sports passes, tickets to Perfect North Slopes, a Fitbit and a gym membership.
The 14th annual Cougar Cuisine benefit was conducted Saturday by the Greenfield-Central senior council and the athletics booster club. The culinary pitch-in and silent auction were conducted to raise funds for Greenfield-Central athletics and the Ben Culver, Todd Lewis and Zach Lett memorial scholarships.
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Fifteen restaurants contributed their food and services to the fundraiser, from popular chains like Applebee’s and Dairy Queen to local Greenfield restaurants like the Sweet Shop and Florida Cracker BBQ.
Patrons paid for their $10 ticket at the door to grab a tray and feast alongside their friends and family, enjoying a wide variety of food from vendors all across the city.
“They pretty much get a taste of Greenfield,” said Aubree Cole, the senior class council secretary.
For the silent auction, students from the senior council split off into teams to ask businesses around central Indiana for donations, which made up the auction’s prizes, Cole said. Students traveled all across the region collecting contributions for the benefit.
“Projects like this make a difference because not only do they help raise money for different organizations but they also help bring the community together,” Cole said. “Everybody gets to help contribute to something bigger than themselves.”
The auction was entirely student led; everything from the donations to the event structure was organized by members of the senior council, said Kelsie Davenport, senior class sponsor.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to get leadership experience and give back a little bit,” Davenport said. “Area businesses are always so generous to us about donating and just being a part of it year after year.”
The council has been planning the event since November, said Jenna Parsons, senior class council co-chair. The best part about this project is that the funds raised for the three scholarships will be given right back to members of her senior class in a few months, she said.
“That’s our job is to serve our class,” Parsons said. “So I think it’s cool that we’re able to raise so much money that goes directly back to them.”
The Benjamin Culver Scholarship, the Zach Lett Running for Excellence Scholarship and the Todd Lewis Gift of Life Scholarship are awarded to students pursuing higher education after graduation.
In 2005, students approached school officials with the idea of using the Cougar Cuisine event to serve as the basis for the grants’ funding, said administrator and senior council sponsor Brent Oliver.
The school has helped sponsor the event every year since, this year raising $2,100 for the scholarships.
Each honors a Greenfield-Central student who died before graduation or shortly after.
Zachariah Lett was a sophomore when he died in an automobile accident in 2003.
Todd Lewis graduated in 2006 and lost his battle with cancer the following October; and the same day Lewis’ friends and family were mourning his death, sophomore Benjamin Culver died in a car accident. Culver had attended the showing for Lewis earlier that same day.
As their former English teacher, Oliver said he has plenty of fond memories of all three young men from when they were in his class.
“Zach was a fun loving young man,” Oliver said. “He always had that mischievous little smirk on his face. Todd was the same way. There was never ever a dull moment when either one of them was around.”
“Benjamin Culver was one of the most conscientious and hardworking young men that I’ve ever been around,” Oliver added. “He took it upon himself even as a young student to inspire the other people around him.”
Each grant will be awarded in May.