DECATUR — Central Park turned into a hub of activity on Wednesday to help kick off the WSOY Community Food Drive, which aims to raise 1.5 million dollars/pounds of food next month.
Hickory Point Bank organized the event, "When Push Comes to Shuffle," to raise money and awareness for the Oct. 4 food drive, which is held in the parking lot of the eastside Decatur Kroger, 1818 S. Airport Road. Wednesday's shuffleboard competition drew people from the community who wanted to take a break for a friendly game. Participants earned points by donating money, wearing costumes and playing a game of shuffleboard.
“At the end of the day we will tally up (points) for a bragging rights trophy,” said Karla Miller, director of corporate communication for Hickory Point Bank. “We just want to be out here to raise money and awareness for food insecurity in Decatur and to support the bigger food drive in a couple of weeks.”
Miller and many of her coworkers have a view of Central Park from their downtown offices. “With a hundred employees, we can’t all go to the food drive,” she said. “We wanted to do something to support it. So we have this kickoff.”
Along with a high score, shuffleboard teams earned extra points through social media votes and donations. Miller chose the sport because of its versatility and accessibility. “We have people who are highly competitive,” Miller said.
Door 4 Brewing Company owner Tim Fyke brought a few employees to the shuffleboard competition. Although he had never played the game before, Fyke said the opportunity fits the focus of his business. “Everything we try to do is about community involvement,” he said. “We try to be as hyper-local as possible.”
Nick Smith brought his students from St. Teresa High School art classes to help with the event. In the past the students had created can sculptures. For this year’s event, they created food insecurity paintings. “It is themed to get them thinking about giving and caring,” he said.
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The students also helped by collecting food and donations from those who dropped off items. St. Teresa requires students to participate in Days of Giving, in which they donate hours of volunteering.
Hickory Point Bank has organized a kickoff event for several years, focusing instead on table tennis in the past.
“That was called the ‘Battle of the Paddle,’ ” said Emily Phillips, senior account executive at Neuhoff Media. “This year the shuffleboard competition is ‘When Push Comes to Shuffle.’ ”
Hickory Point Bank staff partnered with Neuhoff Media to organize the event. “We wanted to do an event to get excited about the food drive,” Phillips said.
Another new addition to the event was food trucks, who were available to provide various menus for lunch. Organizers decided to add the portable restaurants because of their popularity. “It’s kind of all the rage,” Phillips said. “And it’s a special event that doesn’t happen all the time.”
The day was designed for people to attend the events at their convenience. “Maybe drop off some cans, maybe donate some money, maybe grab some food, maybe play some shuffleboard,” Smith said. “But more importantly, be aware that the food drive is coming up in less than a month.”