Food pantry reaps benefit of rivalry

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, October 19, 2013
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While the winners of Battle of Big Sandy competitions won’t be determined until Friday, Wise Area Relief Mission in Decatur already considers itself the real victor.

With increased demand and decreased supplies, representatives of the food pantry eagerly await the conclusion of the 6th Annual Battle of Big Sandy food drive between Decatur and Bridgeport schools.

“Our donations are really low this year,” said Ren Ashmore, WARM executive director. “As a whole, our economy is struggling. Not only does that affect the donations we receive, but we are also seeing families we haven’t seen in years, in addition to a lot of new ones.”

The food pantry hopes to receive a generous boost from the Big Sandy drive, which is one of their largest donations.

Last year the drive collected 25,693 pounds of non-perishable food for WARM, up from 18,631 the year before.

“It has grown significantly through the years,” Ashmore said. “We look forward to another successful drive this year. We absolutely need it. It seems like in the last two months, especially, we haven’t been able to provide as much food.”

The drive, which started Oct. 9, continues through Wednesday. Non-perishable food (preferably cans) can be dropped off at any Bridgeport or Decatur school.

Donations will be weighed, and the district with the heaviest contribution will be declared the winner during halftime of the 93rd gridiron matchup between the Bulls and Eagles at Decatur.

With the exception of 2011, Decatur schools have snagged the coveted canned food trophy every year since the drive’s inception in 2008.

“And we plan to keep it that way,” said Misty Hudson, president of the McCarroll Middle School PTO.

Regardless of who takes home the trophy and bragging rights, WARM representatives know they’ll retain the largest prize.

“We always get excited about this drive,” Ashmore said. “It’s always fun to weigh what has been collected and then keep secret the winner until halftime of the ball game. But it’s even more neat to know that we’ll be able to help some families.”

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