Food Ball, the annual competition between Aberdeen and Hoquiam schools to collect food and donations for the needy kicks off this Friday. Bonnie Jump and Scott Rice are the Food Ball advisors for Hoquiam and Aberdeen, respectively.
What is your life like during the week of Food Ball?
Bonnie Jump: Crazy, a bit exhausting, but I know I will survive. I’m a busy person anyway. It’s just one more component added to my schedule. I just accept what needs to be done and try to do my best. My personal schedule includes tending to three kids of my own, my responsibilities as a teacher and principal in the district, and anything else that comes my way. It’s all part of life, taken one day at a time. I try to keep focused on the bigger picture. It’s a good cause and it’s good for the community.
Scott Rice: Food Ball is a crazy 10 days that sees myself, and our kids, putting in a lot of long nights and early mornings. The kids really show up during the week and do a terrific job of keeping me on my feet and by day 3 it really is running itself.
What are some of your favorite parts of the competition?
Bonnie Jump: I enjoy hearing the stories from people that donate. Some people are so passionate about helping the community and many have come from hard times themselves. It’s a truly remarkable event to see so many people come out in support.
Scott Rice: I love to see the amount of students that come out of the woodwork to volunteer their time to make it a great event. I also really enjoy the Variety Show that is with both schools and highlights the great talents our kids, at both schools, have. All the events are terrific though and you really get to see some great spirit and community building.
Does it get as much participation as in years past? Why do kids tell you they want to be involved?
Bonnie Jump: Every year seems to be different. Most years, kids really enjoy and want to help out in some way. Even if it’s just in a small way, kids at HHS want to help. Whether they have seen the need or felt it first-hand, it’s been a part of their lives for many years. Food Ball has been around now for over 30 years. It has really become a community tradition that brings out the best of the people in Hoquiam and Aberdeen.
Scott Rice: I am only in my second year as the advisor, so I have a limited knowledge about support from students, except for last year. However, Food Ball has a certain mystique about it, and students want to volunteer because it is such an important and vital part of our school and programs. Also, it is a great opportunity to get kids community service hours and I believe students truly want to support their school and their community.
What are some ways Food Ball has changed since you have been doing it, and how would you like to see it change — if at all?
Bonnie Jump: It’s just gotten bigger and bigger through the years. For a while, there were two or three community events in one night. There was hardly any time to do any event really well because we were trying to do too much. A few years ago both schools got together and revamped the rules a bit. It’s helped, but there’s still plenty to do. I am not sure how it can change really. We try to focus in on what we can do and try to do our best to meet the needs of the community. There has been talk of shortening Food Ball time next year. Mostly it is due to the fact that there are so many other activities that overlap and the stresses it puts on the students and community.
Scott Rice: I really want to improve the support we have from our other clubs, sports and activities. We have to shift the mindset that this is not an activity just for a few, but instead that we are ALL working together to do great things for our greater community. Other than that, the event is a phenomenal activity and we are simply making small tweaks and changes to continue to make them better and better.
How does the city aid in your quest?
Bonnie Jump: The people in this city and city officials are so generous. Most of the time, we just need to ask and there is someone that will step up and help. The City of Hoquiam has always been helpful with school events and are so supportive of the kids in their quest to help the needy.
Scott Rice: The local businesses and people are a tremendous help. They volunteer to allow us to complete our Take-Over events, they allow cans to be on their counters and then send us money and food. On top of that, our community helps us in more ways than I can say — they volunteer, they donate, and most importantly they support and encourage our kids and it is greatly appreciated.
Competing to do good may be an odd concept for some. Why do you think it works? What are some other ways you’d like to see such a strategy implemented?
Bonnie Jump: We always focus on what we have control over. We focus on our own personal goals. It’s always meeting or beating our last record. Our real concern is beating hunger. The great thing is that everyone wins at this game. No one loses, the community wins. I think it works because it has become a community tradition. Many of the kids’ parents remember Food Ball. It feels good to help others. Some people may believe that everything involved in Food Ball has to be a competition, but it really doesn’t. A shining example is the Cancer Relay. What an incredible event. In the end, it’s about doing what’s right and realizing what needs to be done.
Scott Rice: The rivalry between AHS and HHS is over a 100 years old and the event itself is in its 32nd year and so the competition adds that extra incentive. Aberdeen doesn’t like to lose in anything to Hoquiam and vice versa — therefore it breeds competition and motivates kids to do great things. Our job as advisers and community members is to make sure that our students understand not only the event and the competition, but more importantly WHY we are doing this event and collecting all this food for the kids and people in our community.