New telethon, old competitions prove successful for Second Harvest food drive

Helen Law, Staff Writer

The long and arduous efforts of the many who organized the Second Harvest food drive at Bearden came to an end on Halloween with more than $15,000 in donations and counting. The number of cans collected in pounds is yet to be determined.

The primary entities at Bearden that organize the program are SGA and the Leadership class, which makes up a combined committee dedicated to Second Harvest. The committee chairs are seniors Piper Givens and Erin Dolvin, who work closely with SGA’s staff advisors. Other clubs have given significant support as well through financial contribution, such as HOSA.

“I think it’s maybe a source of pride,” said Mrs. Rachel Harmon, one of three faculty SGA sponsors. “It’s something that we’ve done for 20 years, so it’s kind of a tradition.”

Competition seems to be a driving factor for people to donate, which was evident during the phenomenal turnout rate when Bearden and Farragut still had their rivalry three years ago. But since Farragut withdrew, donations plummeted, so the Second Harvest committee has worked especially hard to think of clever tactics to obtain donations from the student body.

“We did the telethon this year, which was huge,” SGA faculty sponsor Mr. Cody Martin said. “We raised $3,000 on the telethon in one hour, which was on live television.”

The single biggest event that garnered the most money was Spirit Night.

“Spirit night is when we do Powder Puff football; you pay to get in,” Mr. Martin said. “We have all the clubs set up vending booths to make money, and they donate the money back to Second Harvest.”

Though those single events obtained the most money, probably the biggest impetus for can and money donations on campus was inciting rivalry within the school in numerous, innovative ways. Some old tactics included competitions between the juniors and seniors for the Dawg Lot and between individual first block classes. This year, The Bark and BBN also competed to see who could donate the most.

“If we didn’t have any competitions, I don’t think we’d have hardly any donations at all,” Ms. Harmon said.

Though most of the student body seems driven by competitions, many – including those participating in the Second Harvest committee – are motivated more by personal integrity.

“Our school government students, some of the ones who are more deeply connected to the food drive, [for them] there’s always a sense of duty, like there are hungry people literally depending on students to give,” Mrs. Harmon said. “Because if they don’t, who will?

“How will those people be fed this time of year?”

Bearden has had an ongoing relationship with Second Harvest for 20 years.

“For the past several years, we’ve been the single largest non-profit donor; so they really rely on us every year to have a big showing because they budget every year based on projections,” Mrs. Harmon said  “It’s important that we continue to do the good work that Bearden students do.”

Contributions to Second Harvest are distributed to 18 counties in East Tennessee. Most of the money goes to buying cans in bulk. Because of the economic mass buying, a dollar averages three cans. Food typically bought is high in protein, such as meats and beans.

“I really feel like Second Harvest is depending on us,” Mrs. Harmon said. “I couldn’t imagine looking them in the eyes and saying, ‘we’re not going to do this anymore’ because that would be thousands of meals that they would have to figure out how to get from somewhere else.”

Bearden’s relationship with the organization will likely continue for a long time, if only due to tradition.

“Every time it ends, we’re looking forward to next year,” Mrs. Harmon said. “It’ll be interesting to see what the numbers are next year and what new things we can come up with.”

Next semester, SGA and Leadership will focus their efforts into another food program, Food For Kids. Food For Kids is a backpack program designed to guarantee children are fed over the weekend to sub-city areas.