Among the grudge matches that make up the Battle of Big Sandy, perhaps the one that does the most good for the community is the annual food drive competition between Bridgeport and Decatur.
The beneficiary of those donations is Wise Area Relief Mission (WARM), a food pantry that serves the entire county.
Since 2011, the two school districts have combined to collect more than 34 1/2 tons of food for WARM. Bridgeport defeated their longtime rival last year, out-collecting Decatur 12,896 pounds to 11,969 pounds. The biggest year was 2012 when the schools combined to gather 25,693 pounds of food.
The results of this year’s competition will be announced at halftime of the varsity football game between the two schools this coming Friday.
WARM Executive Director Ren Ashmore admits to being a little nervous about how much food will be collected.
“I haven’t gotten a lot of good feedback yet on the food drive,” she said Thursday. “Typically this far into it, they’d be calling us to come pick it up – and they haven’t.”
It’s not too late to donate. The food drive continues through Tuesday, and then the weighing begins.
People often ask Ashmore about the types of food donations that are needed. That changes week to week, she said, depending on what items are sent from the Tarrant Area Food Bank.
Perhaps the biggest need at the moment is volunteers. Ashmore said WARM recently lost a volunteer who worked a couple of days a week, when she went back to school full time.
“Some days it’s just the two of us,” Ashmore said, including Office Manager Angie Gardiner.
She said many of their long time volunteers can no longer offer their time.
“So many people have either had to go back to work or work two jobs just to survive anymore,” she said. “We used to get stay-at-home moms or somebody that is retired or semi-retired.
” … The regular volunteers who have been coming for years and years are elderly and/or disabled, so they are very limited,” in the physical aspects of the work.
One immediate need is someone who can commit to picking up donations from Wal-Mart each Wednesday and Friday morning. WARM can provide a van, but the volunteer would need to be able to lift boxes that can weigh up to 50 or 60 pounds.
Even if you are not able to lift much weight, Ashmore said they still need help with things such as paperwork or sorting and shelving items that come into the pantry.
The number of people WARM serves seems to steadily increase. Comparing the numbers from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 from this year to last year, WARM has served 100 more families this year.
The needs are still great, and Ashmore hopes the community can step up any way they can – whether by volunteering their time to serve or donating food.
Not to mention, bragging rights are on the line.
WARM is located at 300 N. Trinity in Decatur, open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Call 940-626-4676.