For its newest creation, the Pacific Northwest Cookie Company looked not to its customers, but to a need in its community.
On Wednesday, the Chehalis based cookie company will release a limited-edition Trailblazer Cookie. The strawberry banana oatmeal flavored cookie is being released not just to delight people’s taste buds, but to help raise money for the Centralia College Men’s Basketball team.
Alex Carpenter, operations manager for Pacific Northwest Cookie Company, said sports have always played an important role in his family’s life since their father was a football coach for many years. Centralia College has also held a special place in the siblings’ hearts since almost everyone in their family has attended the college at some point.
Alex Carpenter said he first met men’s basketball coaches Jason Moir and Jonathan McMillan when he was a young child. The Carpenter children were homeschooled and Moir, now a TRIO specialist and head men’s basketball coach for Centralia College, and McMillan, Upward Bound Specialist and assistant men’s basketball coach for Centralia College, refereed in a local basketball homeschool league.
“The only thing I remember of (McMillan) was he was this huge tall guy with dreadlocks and he gave me his sweatband and that was so cool,” Alex Carpenter remembered with a laugh.
Years later, the Carpenter siblings have remained in touch with Moir and McMillan. Recently, it came up in conversation that the Centralia College Men’s Basketball team members receive between $8-$10 per meal during team travel to help defray the cost of meals. Alex Carpenter said he believed this amount to be too small, pointing out that it might buy someone a meal at a fast food restaurant or a couple protein bars and a sports drink but could not come close to covering the cost of the types of food student athletes should be putting into their bodies.
“It’s something some people might not be aware of,” Alex Carpenter said. “How are they supposed to perform at a high level when you have to go to McDonald’s because you have a limited amount of money to fuel your body?”
The Centralia College Men’s Basketball team has the ability to award 65 percent scholarships to eight of its up to 15 players each year. This year the team has 14 players, 12 of whom are actively playing. The sports scholarships that are available only cover tuition. In comparison, many larger colleges and universities have money available to help defray living and training expenses for its student athletes. Moir pointed out that a large majority of Centralia College’s players come from outside the area, some from other states such as Utah and Alaska.
“So, unlike a lot of Centralia College students, these students aren’t going home to a homecooked meal every night,” Moir said.
The issue is further compounded because while Centralia College has a cafeteria, it lacks the ability to purchase a meal plan. This means student athletes at Centralia College are funding all of their food out of their own pockets with no reimbursement for day to day nutritional needs. McMillan pointed out that 70 percent of the players for the men’s basketball team come from low-income families, making need even more deeply felt.
“A lot of the time I think people think ‘you’re a college athlete, you’re spoiled’ but they aren’t,” McMillan said.
Alex Carpenter explained that Pacific Northwest Cookie Company in Chehalis was founded more than a year ago with the goal of creating gluten free, vegan cookies that not only taste good but are made from wholesome and locally sourced ingredients, so the mission of the company really seemed to fit with the idea of helping student athletes eat better. The company first paid a sponsorship cost to put up a banner in the Trailblazer gymnasium.
Next, the company will be sponsoring a cookie giveaway at Wednesday, Jan. 16 men’s basketball game. One limited-edition strawberry banana oatmeal cookie Trailblazer Cookie will be given to every attendee to the game, while supplies last.
“We’re going to do a run of 1,000 and once they’re gone, they’re gone,” said Callie Carpenter, owner of Pacific Northwest Cookie Company.
Callie Carpenter said it is hoped by giving people cookies, they will choose to take part in a freewill donation will be accepted to benefit the men’s basketball team’s travel fund. This will be the first of what the growing company hopes will be many efforts to assist the team.
Callie Carpenter said she loved her brother’s idea to sponsor the men’s basketball team, noting that she is impressed with the team’s family-like atmosphere where the coaches’ doors are always open. She complimented Moir and McMillan for encouraging their athletes to get involved in the community and strive for top grades.
“Our dad always said ‘sports doesn’t build character, it defines it,’” Callie Carpenter said. “(Moir) and (McMillan) have these guys for two years and they’re always setting a good example not only on how to be a good ball player but a good man.”
For Moir and McMillan, the sponsorship from their longtime friends is a humbling experience. He said the financial situation for travel meals has been the case for many years and he is grateful to have someone take an interest in the well being of his players.
“Whatever little bit we get is so helpful,” Moir said.
If You Go …
What: Pacific Northwest Cookie Night fundraiser for the Trailblazers men’s basketball team
When: 8 p.m. Wed. Jan. 16
Where: Centralia College gymnasium
Cost: Admission is $5 general, $2 seniors/students, $10 for family and free for kids 12 and younger, Centralia College students, Centralia College Booster Club members and NWAC members. Free limited-edition Trailblazer cookies will be distributed. Freewill donations will be accepted and will support the men’s basketball team’s travel budget