Bill Johnston has a recipe for pancakes, and he’s using it to thank veterans for what they have done for this country.
The Hendricken High School teacher and coach is the force behind the third annual pancake breakfast to held Monday, Nov. 12 at the school. The event at the school cafeteria starts with a prayer followed by the National Anthem at 7:30 and runs until 11 a.m.
Johnston has rallied the volunteers. He’s got kitchen and serving crews. In addition, about 50 students are looking forward to joining veterans and hearing their stories over pancakes, fruit, juice and coffee.
“It’s almost like they’re telling the story for the first time, like it just happened,” Johnston said of accounts given during the first two breakfasts. He’s looking for that to happen again, and more than anything he’s looking to serve more pancakes.
The challenge is how to get out the word and bring veterans through the doors. Johnston has distributed fliers, and the word is out at Dunkin Donuts and Dave’s Marketplace, the two major sponsors. Last year, 60 veterans showed up. He would love to get 200 or more this year.
While he never served in the military, Johnston comes from a military family. His best friend, “Misha” Knuettel, who he has known since high school, has served several deployments. A couple of more friends are Navy SEALs.
“I’m appreciative of the way of life I’ve had because so many have stepped up,” he said. “They’re not looking for thank yous, but we deserve to give that thank you.”
It’s not just pancakes, either. Johnston uses the breakfast as an opportunity to collect items to be mailed to military away from home during the holidays. He has been in contact with the National Guard as well as identifying Hendricken alumni serving in the military who are deployed. Donations sought range from prepaid calling cards to chewing gum, DVDs, batteries, packaged cookies, magazines and toiletries.
Donation of funds will also go to help the work of SABER (Student Advocates of Blessed Edmund Rice). SABER, a group of Hendricken students, aims to solve problems through advocacy and to educate the community on how the community can better treat veterans.
In his effort to create awareness of the breakfast, Johnston plans to reach out to the Warwick Veterans Council, American Legion posts, Operation Stand Down and the Fire Chiefs of Rhode Island Honor Flight.
In addition to the breakfast Johnston has planned gift baskets and drawings for the veterans. He’s appreciative of the sponsors and the help he is also getting from Top of the Bay and Picasso’s Pizza. And he can’t forget Jason Pariseault who will be working the grill.
As for the recipe, they’re Johnston’s own. He’ll be serving all-buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk pancakes with blueberries, pancakes with chocolate chips and those who put in a special order, banana pancakes. Reservations aren’t required.