Food drive highlights homecoming week

Published 7:46 am Friday, October 9, 2009

Painted and costumed in orange, green, blue and black, Austin High School students geared up for war Thursday afternoon.

The annual Battle of the Connects homecoming competition pits the four grades against each other in pinguard (similar to dodgeball), “Name That Tune,” water balloon toss and an obstacle course. “Connects,” or homerooms, compete for bragging rights.

Senior Tracy Hauschildt said her team intended to win “all of them.” Her favorite competition is the pinguard, “because you get to hit them out.”

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But the fun and games it also for a good cause. Each Connect room has been collecting food donations for the Channel One, Inc. Food Bank and Food Shelf. The non-perishable food and water was weighed Thursday in the commons area to see who gathered the most donations. Then, boxes of food were moved into principal Brad Bergstrom’s office for the “Drive Him Out” campaign, which encourages students and community members to fill Bergstrom’s office by Nov. 6.

All donations for the food drive will be funneled through Channel One, but will directly benefit the Salvation Army food pantry in Austin.

Julie Christensen, volunteer recruiter and communications relations coordinator for Channel One, of Rochester, said the “Drive Him Out” campaign is “a great idea.”

“The whole food drive is what we call a friendly competition,” she said.

A kick-off was held Sept. 28 for the Tyson Student Food Drive, an annual event in which food banks must apply to participate. Twenty local schools are competing, including Southland, LeRoy-Ostrander and Hayfield high schools.

The winners will be based on pounds per student in two divisions: schools under 1,200 and over 1,200 (AHS has more than 1,200 students). There is also a category for the best use of creativity.

“The school that brings the most in for each division gets $750,” Christensen said. Second place winners in each division receive $500. A Spirit Award will also be given to first and second place in each division; Channel One representatives must be present to “witness” the school’s enthusiasm.

“If they don’t invite us, we really can’t determine what’s going on,” Christensen said.

The drive will conclude Nov. 6, “Loading Day.” Fifteen students from each school will attend a party. Channel One will also officially weigh all donations.

Channel One is aiming to collect more than 40,000 pounds of food this year. Christensen said there is a demand everywhere for food donations now, especially with winter approaching.

“Every year the need goes up,” she said. “The economy has bounced back a little … but not for everyone.”