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Grad night: Donors, volunteers to keep grads safe

Safe and Sober Graduation night volunteers, left to right, Debbie Olson, Eva Lopez and Debbie Bruschi receive a check from Pelican Bay State Prison Community Resource Manager Robert Losacco for $1,800 raised by inmates. Submitted photo
 Graduating seniors will have a chance to cut loose after receiving their diploma later this month thanks to the hard work of a handful of volunteers and donations from the community.

A variety of people and business are donating to Safe and Sober Graduation, including inmates from Pelican Bay State Prison. 

This year’s Safe and Sober Graduation celebration will be held at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds following Del Norte High School’s graduation on June 13, Olson said. The event will feature a mechanical bull, go-karts, bounce houses, food and raffle prizes just for the Class of 2014.

“The community always comes out and donates a ton of everything,” said volunteer Debbie Olson. “It’s a fun event for the kids to get away from big parties where there’s a lot of drinking. It’s a safe alternative for the whole graduating class including the charter schools and Sunset (High School).”

The prison’s Alcoholics Anonymous group held an inmate food sale, offering food from KFC and goodies from Fred Meyer, and raised $1,800 for Del Norte County schools, said staff sponsor Karla Bauer. The inmates also raised $1,800 for Safe and Sober Graduation celebrations for Brookings-area students, she said.

According to Community Resource Manager Robert Losacco, the food inmate sale must go towards a cause that ties in with the sponsor’s mission.

“Our Narcotics Anonymous Group did it last year,” he said referring to NA’s donation of $1,500.

Bauer said when they find out the funds are benefitting local kids, many inmates simply donate the money without actually purchasing the food.

“They don’t want the kids to end up here like them,” Bauer said. “Maybe they didn’t get a DUI, but maybe it’s a commitment offense and they were drunk or high when they did it. They don’t want these kids to follow in their footsteps.”

Safe and Sober Graduation starts at 9 p.m. on June 13 and lasts until 4 a.m. the following morning. To find out how to donate, call Debbie Bruschi at 954-3786.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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