Food Ball kickoff is Friday

The Greeks versus the Persians. The Allies versus the Axis Powers. Maggie Simpson versus that baby with one eyebrow.

Every generation has its great rivalries. And every rivalry has a decisive battle. In Grays Harbor, the rivalry is between Aberdeen and Hoquiam high schools, and the battle is Food Ball.

The 2012 edition of Food Ball begins on Friday.

Started in 1981 by Jill Bellis while she was working at a local radio station, Food Ball is an annual food collection drive between Aberdeen and Hoquiam high schools to raise money and food stuffs for Coastal Harvest, a Harbor-area distribution center for food banks.

“She thought it would be a great way to tap into the rivalry for a good cause and that’s how Food Ball was born,” said Aberdeen High School Assistant Principal Derek Cook about Bellis. “Once it became a thing where bragging rights were at stake, it took off.”

Although each year the final outcome is measured in pounds, the real end result is the opportunity to help the Grays Harbor community.

In Hoquiam the effort kicks off at 2:45 p.m. with a parade starting on campus and neighborhood canvassing. At Aberdeen it kicks off with a rally at Sam Benn Gym at 6 p.m. For both schools, the event ends on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the Grays Harbor PUD at the final weighing of the food and counting of donated money.

Each dollar of money donated from the community counts as 10 pounds of food. Last year, although Aberdeen collected 600 more pounds in food donations than Hoquiam did, the Grizzles collected $17,758.12 more in monetary donations. In the end, Aberdeen collected 414,718.5 in food-equivalent pounds, while Hoquiam collected 591,678.70 and won. The total collected for the 2011 Food Ball was 1,006,397 food-equivalent pounds. Traditionally, Hoquiam has been the school to beat, despite their smaller size. Of the past 10 Food Balls, Hoquiam has won seven times to Aberdeen’s three. The most food collected for Food Ball was in 2007 at 1,062,990 food-equivalent pounds.

Over the past 10 years, the schools have collected 9,574,000 food-equivalent pounds.

Scott Rice, the faculty adviser at Aberdeen for Food Ball said spirits are high and he expects good things this year.

“I think this year could be, far and away, our best year,” he said.

Bonnie Jump, the Food Ball faculty adviser at Hoquiam, said she expects an exciting event this year as well.

“I am working with a really positive group of student chairs, their outlook is really enthusiastic,” she said. “They’re excited to do something for the community that is positive.”

Competition and even fun aside, both Jump and Rice said the main point of Food Ball is to help Harbor residents when they fall on hard times. “It really helps the people in our community,” Jump said.

The final weigh in is the big payoff when the students of each school see what they have done. All the dollars are counted and the trailers full of food are put on the scales in front of the students, “And they realize the dollar amount and it’s like, ‘Wow, we did this for our community,’” Cook said.