News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 26, 2012

Valley prep football teams raise 10 tons of food for hungry

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Wabash Valley football teams scored a touchdown for the hungry this season, rushing more than 10 tons of food into a local charity.

Results of the second annual Friday Football Food Drive were tallied inside the First Financial Bank Conference Center Thursday afternoon, with West Vigo High School coming out on top of the heap.

Since Aug. 17, nine high school football teams have been collecting food donations at their games in a competition benefiting Catholic Charities of Terre Haute.

The nine-week total came out to 21,620 pounds, more than double last year’s tally of 9,500 pounds.

The Vikings’ principal, Tom Balitewicz, said his students would be ecstatic to learn their 5,612 pounds placed them first.

“It’s just amazing that we’re the smallest school probably and yet we raised the most,” he said, noting the competition will likely step up next year. “The West Vigo community is just such a generous community, I know we’ll be contenders again next year.”

Terre Haute South Vigo finished second with 5,160 pounds, topping Northview’s 3,788 and Terre Haute North Vigo’s 3,613.

Catholic Charities executive director John Etling said the event helps raise awareness while collecting food by the ton. The organization’s food bank serves seven counties and distributed 1.25 million pounds of food through June of this year

Many of those individuals served are children, he said, pointing out the high number of area students on free or reduced lunches.

“We know that education and the children’s ability to do well in the classroom depends on nutrition,” he said.

Bob Rhodes, vice president of business development at First Financial Bank, said the organization was proud to be among the sponsors providing Pepsi Refresh Project awards of $1,500, $1,000 and $500 to the winning schools.

“We enjoy the opportunity to be a part of this,” he said. A former high school defensive end himself, he said the merger of charity and athletics is a good move for all. “Anything that helps promote and sponsor good sportsmanship between the kids and the community, that’s good.”

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.