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Storage wars, Island-style: Battle between rivals to benefit Helpline House

Isabelle R. Cobb, assistant manager at Bainbridge Self Storage, challenges Curt Bonderant of Reliable Storage to a food drive competition. The two island storage companies will be collecting food donations from Feb. 23 to March 9 to benefit the Helpline House. The loser has to wash the winners’ cars. - Photo courtesy of Bainbridge Self Storage
Isabelle R. Cobb, assistant manager at Bainbridge Self Storage, challenges Curt Bonderant of Reliable Storage to a food drive competition. The two island storage companies will be collecting food donations from Feb. 23 to March 9 to benefit the Helpline House. The loser has to wash the winners’ cars.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Bainbridge Self Storage

Curt Bonderant saw them coming, his competition, and they were on his turf.

But when the gang from around the corner approached him with a proposition, he didn’t tell them to stow it. Instead, he said to bring it on.

“If you are the two biggest kids on the block you got to challenge each other,” Bonderant said.

It’s a storage war: Bainbridge Island-style.

Bonderant is a manager at Reliable Storage on New Brooklyn Road. Their competition around the corner, Bainbridge Self Storage, challenged his facility to a competition. The goal: collect the most food donations for Helpline House.

“We are going to take Curt out,” said Janice Danielson, manager of Bainbridge Self Storage. “Those guys don’t have a chance.”

“It’s all in fun — but we take our competitions seriously,” she added.

The two competing storage companies have a respectful, friendly relationship. So when the managers at Bainbridge Self Storage began planning their annual food drive they decided to bring Reliable in on the fun.

Islanders can take nonperishable food donations to either facility from Saturday, Feb. 23 to Saturday,

March 9.

“They can take it to us or to Reliable, but they should probably take it to us because we have candy, dog bones and kitty treats,” Danielson said with a laugh.

The storage companies are picking the right time to raise food for Helpline House. The island’s food bank has been in considerable need for donations.

“January and the first part of February were really light and tight with donations,” said Marilyn Gremse, Helpline House food bank manager.

“In general, the donation levels are down,” she added. “That’s been true over the last couple of years.”

While the food bank’s donations have gone down, the need on the island has grown.

“We continue to be surprised at the demand for services at the food bank, it continues to go up,” Gremse said.

In January, the food bank served the largest number of islanders in one month in Helpline House history, Gremse said. A total of 1,231 households.

Bonderant and Danielson hope that their efforts can help.

“I’m hoping we can fill up a 14-foot U-Haul with food,” Danielson said. “Our goal is to get as much as we can.”

In the end, the food drive competition isn’t so much about the winner, however, it’s a bit more about the loser. The one that raises the least amount of food will have to donate two extra bags of groceries to Helpline House.

But that’s not all.

“The loser has to wash the two managers’ cars over here, or over there, and one truck,” Bonderant said.

Whoever wins or loses is beside the point, Danielson notes.

“The winner is ultimately the Helpline House,” she said.

Reliable Storage will be accepting food donations at its location at 9551 New Brooklyn Road. Bainbridge Self Storage will be accepting donations at its location at 9300 Sportsman Club Road.

Islanders can always donate food to the Helpline House on Knechtel Way from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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