02/25/2024
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A Staff Report

Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

The Kiwanis Club of Elizabethtown recently declared the victor of their 2023 Can Food Drive Competition between East Bladen and West Bladen High Schools. This longstanding tradition, which has left a lasting impact on the community since its inception in 2018, has now seen over 20,000 cans donated to local food pantries due to the competition’s efforts.

Michael Aycock, who played a role in delivering the collected cans to the Bladen Crisis Food Pantry, couldn’t help but express his amazement at the sheer volume of donations. “The amount of cans was truly amazing,” he remarked, reflecting the schools’ overwhelming generosity.

The heart of the competition lies in the friendly rivalry between East Bladen High School and West Bladen High School. Dr. Peggy Hester and Ms. Georgia Spaulding, both principals at the two schools, encouraged the annual competition’s showdown. The school that collects the most cans secures victory and claims a trophy as a token of appreciation.

Since the competition’s inception, West Bladen High School has consistently emerged as the winner.

Ms. Jennifer Hair, East Bladen’s sponsor/teacher, and Ms. Dawn Russ and Ms. Jill Smith, West Bladen’s sponsor/teachers, all voiced their excitement for the annual canned food drive. “Campbell Soup and Duke Energy have been instrumental in helping us collect more cans this year, and we are incredibly grateful for their assistance,” Ms. Russ mentioned.

Ms. Hair pointed out the value of student participation in the competition, saying, “It’s important for the students to be part of this event each year. One year, we thought we had a chance to win, but West Bladen managed to collect over 5,000 cans. That’s okay; next year, we’ll strive even harder.”

The eagerly anticipated award presentation took place during half-time at the East Bladen vs. West Bladen game on December 5th, hosted at East Bladen High School. Ms. Jill Smith and some West Bladen students proudly accepted the trophy, and both schools were presented with a $100 donation from the Kiwanis Club.

Throughout the years, this annual event has seen both high schools rise to the challenge, collectively amassing tens of thousands of canned food items that benefit the local community. Dr. Lisa Bryan, President of the Kiwanis Club of Elizabethtown, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to all who participated, remarking, “This great effort will feed so many this holiday season.” The Kiwanis Club’s Can Food Drive Competition remains a shining example of how teamwork and friendly competition can have a profound impact on those in need within the Bladen County community.

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