Ask Hoquiam senior Taylor Walker, one of the chairs of 2013 Food Ball, what the best part about the event is and she gives the immediate answer one might expect from an upperclassman with a competitive spirit and some serious Grizzly pride.
But it’s all in good fun with the 32-year long rivalry competition of collecting food and raising money for food banks between Hoquiam and Aberdeen highschoolers.
“Really … it’s just having the feeling everything you did was worth it,” she continues, referring to the outstanding amount of food and money the schools raise for those in need on Grays Harbor. “All the stress, it’s all about giving back to the community.”
Last year, the two schools collected nearly a million pounds of food or in-kind donations (every dollar donated is counted as 10 pounds worth of food) during the 11-day event. Large as it may be, it still did not surpass the record largest donation of $1,062,990 pounds in 2007. Hoquiam won the event last year by a fairly large margin with 602,119.7 pounds — the Bobcats collected 395,474.8 pounds.
This year’s kick-off is Friday morning and will culminate with the final weigh-in Monday, Nov. 12 at the Grays Harbor PUD, and the ASB leadership adviser for Aberdeen High School Scott Rice thinks the Bobcats stand a better chance this year. Last year was Rice’s first year participating and leading Food Ball.
“I have a better vision of what it should look like and how it should go and direct students and say, ‘Well, that didn’t work, let’s change something,’ ” he said, adding that physically seeing how much money and food the two schools actually accumulated last year was a great visual aid to his quest. “And I have a great group of kids.”
The Food Ball participants will work around the clock — whenever they aren’t in school — to collect and canvass during the daylight hours. Senior Dani Stanton, one of Aberdeen’s Food Ball chairs, said it can be up to six hours a day of work, but she loves it.
“The best part about it is the stress. We’re just jam-packed and busy, and we have something to show for it,” she said.
Each year Food Ball benefits Coastal Harvest, the food bank distribution site that helps to sort, box and distribute donations locally to food banks.
This year, the competition falls on a delivery week for the business, making things a little more difficult (they had to borrow trailers instead of using their own), said Tony Airhart, executive director of Coastal Harvest. But, he said, they are always happy to make such an operation work.
“It’s just such a great opportunity for the kids, not even just to help out the community, but also to learn about poverty in the community,” he said. What the two schools have accomplished over the years is unprecedented, he said, adding schools in other areas have spoken with him about doing similar efforts but that many do not think they will have enough support within the school.
Protein rich foods, like tuna, chili, beef stew or peanut butter are most needed locally, said Airhart. Healthier foods, and specialty items like low-sodium food, are often a bit more expensive and so are not donated enough, he added.
The gift of time will be the number one priority for the schools starting Friday as they juggle sports, jobs and other families alongside raising an outlandish amount in an extraordinarily short amount of time. Bonnie Jump, Food Ball faculty adviser for Hoquiam High School, says she does not make predictions, and that everyone truly wins in giving back to the community — but one thing is surely predicted: a very busy week ahead after the kickoff.
“Ready or not, we have to go forward” she said.
Friday, Nov. 1
•Foodball Kick Off Assembly at 2:15 p.m.
•Football game V. Ridgefield at 7 p.m.
•Band Business Blitz 10 to 11 a.m.
• Kick Off Parade and canvassing (Up Karr down Eklund)
• Grizzly Den Takeover 4-7p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 2
• Rock-and-Bowl @ Rainier Lanes 9-11 p.m.
• Safeway Canvassing 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Food Ball Luncheon HHS 1-3 p.m.
•Wal-Mart 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 3
•Aberdeen Community Blitz- ALL DAY
• Wal-Mart canvassing 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Top Foods
• Canvassing 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
•Coffee Take Over
Monday, Nov. 4
• Dodgeball v. Hoquiam 6 to 9 p.m. @ Sam Benn Gym
• Safeway canvassing 3 to 8 p.m.
•Dodgeball at AHS- Joint Event 6 p.m.
Tues., Nov. 5
•Mazatlan Take-over 5 to 8 p.m.
• Wal-Mart canvassing 3 to 8 p.m.
• Top Food canvassing 3 to 8 p.m.
• McTake Over at Hoquiam McDonalds 5 to 8 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 6
• Aberdeen McTake-Over 5 to 8 p.m.
• Safeway Canvassing 3 to 8 p.m.
• Lanas Take Over 4 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 7
• Muscle Beach Volleyball 7 to 9 p.m. at Sam Benn Gym
• Wal-Mart Canvassing 3 to 8 p.m.
• Top Foods Canvass 3 to 8 p.m.
•Dominos 4 to 8 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 8
• Mr. Foodball Pageant at AHS 5:30 to 7 p.m.
• Safeway canvassing 3 to 10 p.m.
• Mr. Food Ball Pageant at AHS 5:30 to 7 p.m.
• Safeway canvassing 3 to 10 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 9
•Powderpuff 10 to 1 p.m. @ Stewart Field
• Safeway canvassing 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
•Dinner/Dessert Auction at Elks. Dinner 5:30 p.m., Auction 7 p.m.
• Both schools at Safeway.
Sunday, Nov. 10
• Food Ball Variety Show 6:30 p.m. @ AHS Auditorium
• Safeway canvassing
• Food Ball Extravaganza Variety Show at Aberdeen, 6:30 p.m.
• Wal-Mart 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 11
•Canvassing all day! No school.
•Bailout canvassing at Swanson’s 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Canvassing all day! No School.
Tues. Nov. 12
• PUD weigh-in at 5:00 p.m.