Union Heights Elementary held its inaugural Hoops for the Harvest benefit basketball game with Alpha Elementary Tuesday.
Hoops for the Harvest was conceived as a home and away basketball series, the proceeds of which will go to a charity or organization that benefits Hamblen County students each year.
The project began when Union Heights basketball Coach Telford Rymer told Principal Chuck Carter he would like the boys and girls on this year’s Tornado basketball teams to get involved in a community service project.
“Jim is a great supporter of anything that will create opportunities for our students and both schools did a tremendous job of collecting food items” Carter said.
It didn’t take long for Carter to find a fitting project. The local non-profit organization Tennessee Food on Foot provides weekend food items and backpack supplies to students in the Lakeway Area, including students at Union Heights.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to give back to those that are currently giving to our students,” Carter said.
Alpha Elementary Principal Kim Dyke and Assistant Principal Jim Patrick agreed to make Alpha a partner school.
The schools played a benefit, non-conference basketball game, the proceeds of which went to Food on Foot.
To up the ante, Carter and Patrick agreed that the principal of the losing school would visit the winning school and kiss a pig.
Carter also appealed to all of the area schools to participate in the food drive to help the smaller Union Heights scare up the larger amount of items.
Several schools made contributions, including Hillcrest and East Ridge Middle, and at the end of the day the Tornados had amassed an amount of food items the Bulldogs were unable to surpass.
Union Heights was able to gather over 5,000 food items, cases of water and juice boxes.
Food on Foot President Carolyn Jarnagin and board member Jeannie Jett collected the items at Union Heights.
“When Mrs. Jarnagin and Mrs. Jett walked in to our school and saw the amount of items that our two schools collected, it almost brought tears to Mrs. Jarnagin’s eyes.” Carter said. “She told us that she and her husband had driven their car to pick up the items, and that he would have to go back home to get their truck and trailer to move the amount of items that the two schools harvested.”
Jett said many churches, schools and other groups have supported the non-profit organization, but none had ever amassed as much as these two elementary schools.
The Alpha Bulldogs won both the girls and boys basketball games.
Patrick is scheduled to kiss a pig in the coming week, but school officials have not yet announced the date and time at which he will smooch the swine.