By Kamiah Koch
With a goal of raising $1,200 and collecting 700 pounds of donated non-perishable foods, the Western Track and Field team challenged themselves to a race off the track.
The team engaged with people outside the Sehome and Fairhaven Haggen stores on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 17, and the entire day on Sunday, Nov. 18, inviting shoppers to donate to the Bellingham Food Bank.
This fundraiser is part of the team’s Community Connections Campaign, which works to get the Track and Field team involved with Bellingham residents while also giving back.
To keep spirits lively in the cold November air, each hourly shift consisted of three team members competing against each other to see which shift could receive the most donations.
Sophomore sprinter Bella Foos said during her afternoon shift on Sunday her team was on their way to reaching the donation goal. Referencing a score sheet at the donation table, the team could see which shift was winning in donations. Foos said the 2 p.m. shift before them had collected 57 donated food items and the 3 p.m. shift she was on had collected 37 donated food items.
“We still have 10 minutes!” Foos said to her teammates after reading the donation numbers.
In hopes of beating the 57 donations from the shift before hers, Foos quickly returned to her post at the front entrance of the Sehome Haggen to encourage more shoppers to donate.
Mallory Harder, a freshman 400-meter runner, said the Track and Field team does an outreach service project every year.
“[The team] has done food bank donations the last two years,” Harder said. “And people seem to be interested, especially around the holidays.”
Freshman hammer thrower Avery Lux said some shoppers are excited to donate and interact with the team.
“This fundraiser is a great way to open conversations about track with people,” Lux said. “It also creates association with the philanthropy the Track and Field team participates in.”
After giving shoppers the spiel on the team’s fundraiser for the food bank, Lux said people often ask the athletes what events they do and what they’re majoring in at school.
When the fundraiser ended, the team loaded the canned and non-perishable items into the back of Head Coach Pee Wee Halsell’s truck and posed for a photo with the pile of goods they collected. Then, Halsell took all the goods directly to the Bellingham Food Bank.
Although scores were not finalized at the 5 p.m. shift, the Sehome Haggen score sheet showed the 9 a.m. crew was the winning shift with $265 in money donations. The 2-4 p.m. shifts were tied with around 50-60 food donations each.
Foos said it’s hard to tell if there is a difference between this year and last year’s donation numbers, but people have been very generous, she said.
Harder said they will likely continue this fundraiser event again next year and said she hopes to see the team do more events like this that benefit the Bellingham community.
Hopefully the team felt a runner’s high when the final results were tallied up. Collectively, they reported on WWU Athletics’ Twitter page that 1,135 pounds of food was donated and they raised $1,740.