Monte wins Food Bowl again

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Montesano sophomore Austin Vinson serves during Buff Volleyball on Dec. 12.
Montesano senior Kenny Roy spikes a ball during Buff Volleyball on Dec. 12.
The Blue Bulls pose for a picture after winning the Buff Volleyball tournament on Dec. 12. The Blue Bulls pose for a picture after winning the Buff Volleyball tournament on Dec. 12.
Students and fans attempted to duct tape Montesano High School Principal Alec Pugh to a wall Friday during the boys basketball game.
Elma senior Haley Ulakovich waits at the stop light in Elma for donations for Food Bowl.
Elma senior Mady Swartz accepts a donation from a motorist toward food bowl on Friday.

For the third consecutive year, Montesano High School students topped their Elma High counterparts in the annual Food Bowl competition as both schools combined to bring in the equivalent of almost 150,000 pounds of food for local food banks.

The Montesano Food Bowl team gathered 15,960 pounds of actual food and $35,857.44, with each dollar counting as two pounds of food. That’s the most cash contributions Monte has ever gathered, according to Food Bowl adviser Anne Ekerson. Meanwhile, Elma students garnered 14,040 pounds of food and $23,046.83. The combined total was an even 30,000 pounds of food and almost $59,000 in cash donations to be divvied up among four East County food banks just in time for the Christmas holiday.

The annual weigh-in was held at BayView Redi-Mix’s scales in Elma, where Food Bowl volunteers from each school gathered for the announcement of the 2013 winner and a trophy presentation. On hand for Montesano were team members Chase Keith, Kuinn Karaffa, Taylor Zillyett, Chazlyn O’Bannon and Miranda Whoeler.

“It was a great year for both schools,” said Montesano Principal Alec Pugh, who was on hand for the weigh-in.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Whoeler, the Food Bowl chairwoman. “We had three days of weather delays and cancellations and we still pulled through. The community gave like no other. Elma brought in a lot, too. So, that’s great.”

The schools conducted various events and fundraisers throughout the 10-day event in their communities and schools.

Among Montesano’s big draws was a Buff Volleyball competition, featuring festively uniformed teams of students.

“It is those two weeks that we get to do stuff that we don’t normally get to do,“ said Montesano sophomore Kaleb Chastain of Food Bowl while at the volleyball event. “I always consider myself fortunate, so I like to give back whenever I can. I would be thankful if I was on the other side of it. It is the way to make it even out and make it fair in life because what people have on one side others should get to have.”

“It is pretty fun,” fellow sophomore Austin Vinson said of Food Bowl. “We get to help people; it feels good as long as we are helping people.”

Elma drew plenty of events, too.

“We have had a lot of really successful events this year even though we had one day cancelled for snow,” said Elma senior Haley Ulakovich, her school’s Food Bowl chairwoman. “Last Thursday, during the assembly, the ASB executive leaders got pied in the face. It was $10 each to pie them in the face and they made $1,100 doing that. They ran out of pie so they used chili, so we got really messy.”

But it was well worth it, she added.

“Our local food banks, they get in short supply this time of year, and I think it is really great to be able to give back,” Ulakovich said.

“It has been really amazing to see how much the community is willing to donate to the less fortunate,” added Elma senior Mady Swartz. “To give back means helping families get through times that they wouldn’t be able to get through without it, and if it wasn’t for this they probably wouldn’t be able to have Christmas meals.”

Last year, both schools raised a combined weight of 143,707.28 pounds of food and money. Separate figures weren’t immediately available.

In 2011, Montesano had a total of 76,731 pounds and Elma had a total of 59,669 for a combined 136,400 pound equivalent of cash and food.