MOUNT VERNON — Draper Valley Farms meat processing plant employees brought their families out Saturday for the company’s second annual Back to School supply drive.

Children received school supplies, such as folders, pens, pencils and backpacks, and snacked on doughnuts and popcorn.

Plant manager Maurice Norman said the event is one of many that Draper Valley Farms holds to show appreciation for its employees.

“Without them, we don’t have a company. People are our number one priority,” Norman said.

Eleven-year-old Anysa Serrano, a sixth-grader this year, said she is excited to go to middle school. She held a blue bag of markers and notebooks.

“It’s very, very nice. It’s a big help for the kids and parents,” said Esther Serrano, Anysa’s grandmother and a lead supervisor at Draper Valley Farms.

For some employees, this was their first time seeing each other outside of work.

For example, Draper Valley Farms Superintendent Thomas Green said he didn’t recognize Chelsey Valencia without her hairnet and large white overcoat.

“To see her outside of work, it’s cool. It’s a different perspective,” Green said.

As families walked through the line outside the plant’s break room, Green greeted families and the children with a smile.

He said it’s events like these that make the company feel like one large extended family.

“Of course, they bring their children, grandchildren. Family — it’s all about family,” Green said.

About 375 people work at the processing plant. Leftover school supplies will go to the 80 employees and their families at the distribution center, then local elementary schools, said David Ricketts, logistics manager.

Lee Hiner, director of operations at the processing plant, said the small amount of supplies make up most of what the children need for the year.

Some employees don’t have time to take their kids shopping, he said, so Saturday’s event is a convenient way to curtail that concern.

— Reporter Eric Rosane: 360-416-2139,, Twitter: @Eric_SVH

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