It’s an idea whose time has come.
Lord Tweedsmuir and Clayton Heights secondaries have turned a good-natured rivalry into a formal challenge in the spirit of helping Cloverdale’s neediest families this Christmas.
In recent years, the two schools have unofficially kept an eye on who has collected the most donations for the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program.
But this year, it’s on.
For the first time, the two local high schools have launched a formal competition to see which school can bring in the most donations for the program, a non-denominational community campaign that helped out about 230 local families and individuals last year.
Schools are among the program’s biggest supporters in terms of donations of non-perishable food items, ahead of community organizations, businesses, churches and other schools.
Will the Panthers pounce the Night Riders – or will the Riders yield to the big cats? The contest ends Dec. 6.
Meanwhile, donation boxes have been set up in classrooms throughout both schools, and students are roaming the community to collect donations to help put their school over the top.
“We have just been everywhere,” Lord Tweedsmuir student co-council president John Wu said.
The schools challenge each other on the football field at the Stetson Bowl each year, but “we thought we might as well do something non-sports related,” Wu said.
In a high-stakes diplomatic move for Tweedy, Wu broached the subject with his counterpart at Clayton Heights two weeks ago.
They went for it.
“The overall goal is that no matter which school wins, the community benefits from it,” he said.
Tweedsmuir has a worthy rival in Clayton Heights, which has historically led donations to the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program, which collects and distributes tens of thousands of dollars in donations of food and gifts each year.
For example, in 2011, Clayton Heights collected more than 10,000 items and $1,000 in cash.
The donations are destined for the warehouse at Pacific Community Church, which acts as the nerve centre, where dozens of volunteers sort and assemble the hampers in time for pick up day, Dec. 14.
Clayton Heights Secondary’s Cecilia Stampedro sounded pretty confident about the school’s odds this year.
“I believe we have a better chance at beating Tweedsmuir, despite their advantage of a larger amount of students, because we have always collected more non-perishable items than them,” she said, adding she’s looking forward to the results no matter what.
That’s because both she and Wu believe the competition will ultimately raise the overall amount of donations the two schools collect compared to previous years.
Clayton Heights starts collecting donations of non-perishable food items in October, during Halloween For Hunger. On Oct. 31, members of the school’s Global Issue’s Club head out to points across Cloverdale, trick-or-treating for non-perishable food items rather than candy.
With the contest deadline looming, several classes have also decided to challenge each other. Stampedro said some teachers are offering small rewards to help spur on the food drive. Another big incentive is a prize draw for a $100 gift card for the store of their choice.
Back at Tweedsmuir, Wu said a video that was broadcast on the school’s CHTV and featured boasts and taunts helped motivate students.
“We’re going to beat them. We beat them in basketball, and we’re going to beat them at this as well,” he said.
The taunts from the other side have been similarly edgy, with Clayton Heights pointedly advising Tweedsmuir to stick to what it knows best, namely football and cheerleading. Ouch!
Next Saturday, Dec. 7, Hillcrest Village Shopping Centre hosts Cloverdale Community Cares food drive in support of the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Surrey Fire Fighters and Surrey RCMP will be helping out, with a guest appearance by Santa.
Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program lead Kevin Lunder said donations of food and money must be in no later than Dec. 10.
Financial gifts, big or small, are greatly appreciated. Other donation suggestions include: non-perishable food items, grocery gift cards, toiletries and personal care items, new gloves, socks, and scarves, new, unwrapped children’s toys and gifts and mall or store gift cards for youth.
Donations can also be made via boxes throughout the community, in person at Pacific Community Church, 5337 180 Street, or online at www.pacificcommunity.ca/ministries/cloverdale-hamper-program/pages/donations. Call 604-574-4001, Ext. 107 for more info.