With 602,119.7 pounds of food or in-kind monetary donations gathered in 12 days, the Grizzlies of Hoquiam High School won this year’s Food Ball competition on Tuesday.
The Bobcats collected 395,474.8 pounds of food or in-kind donations this year for a grand total between the two schools of 997,594.5 pounds of food raised for the annual event. According to the rules, each dollar collected counts as 10 pounds of food.
Although this year’s collections fell short of last year’s totals, it is the third highest collection in the past five years. The largest donation on record was 1,062,990 pounds in 2007.
Bonnie Jump, Food Ball faculty adviser for Hoquiam High School, said what the schools did this year was amazing.
“Food Ball is not about one school winning and one school losing, it’s about helping others. It’s about doing something good for our community and I feel really proud of that,” she said. “We went into this year expecting it to be a down year. I have friends who have been out of work and it’s really heartwarming to see them come out and come and donate food and come in and donate money when we know there are people who are really on hard times right now. … It’s a good feeling to know people are out there and still care.”
Todd Gladsjo, a senior a Hoquiam and one of the leaders of this year’s Food Ball competition said, “I think it is fantastic that both schools can combine to do that much for the community and I think it’s really great that the community backed us up that much and really helped us out with reaching the totals that we did this year. I think both schools did a fantastic job and I hope we can continue to have the same type of success we had this year in the future.”
Jordan Wolfe, a senior at Aberdeen who helped run the competition at her school, said despite the loss, she was happy with the amount of food and contributions they were able to raise.
“I think it went really well, considering we had a lot of changes going on this year. But our kids, our community we all came together. We did the best we could. We raised almost $40,000. That’s a lot. That’s a huge accomplishment. I’m really proud of that, especially for my senior year to be able to say I was part of that.”
This year was Scott Rice’s first Food Ball. The ASB leadership adviser for Aberdeen High School said he was really impressed with the students and the community of Grays Harbor.
“It’s a tremendous event. It’s a huge experience to see two communities come together and raise almost a million pounds of food year in and year out. It’s great to see kids being kids, having fun helping their communities and just enjoying it. I’ve never been to a community where they rally around a social service in the kind of way that this does. It’s such a huge event. It’s just cool to be a part of.”
The contributions this year were measured at Grays Harbor PUD in Aberdeen on Tuesday. The contributions, both in food stuffs and in monetary donations were raised for Coastal Harvest. The Hoquiam-based organization collects huge amounts of food and distributes them to food banks around Southwest Washington. Students went door to door collecting donations and held fundraisers across the Harbor area, including business “takeovers” in which part of the profits from the business are donated. Anthony Airhart, executive director of Coastal Harvest, said the event teaches the students of each school about life and helping their community.
“There’s almost one in five people in Grays Harbor who are food-insecure, meaning that they are not certain where their next meal is going to come from. So, for a community where 20 percent of the people are in need to come through with something like this is remarkable, and we’ve got a remarkable bunch of kids who did it. It’s just a wonderful event,” he said.